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Tuesday, 10 April 2018 14:25

To the moon and back - ‘Rocket Men’

It’s remarkable to think that 50 years ago, we sent men to the moon with slide rules and punch-card computers. You’ve probably got something in your pocket right now exponentially more powerful than the combined computing power of NASA in the late 1960s.

But send them we did.

While history most clearly remembers Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon back in July of 1969, he and his crew were just the latest in a long line of astronauts who took many first steps of their own – steps that led to the planting of a flag somewhere not of the Earth.

Robert Kurson’s “Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts Who Made Man’s First Journey to the Moon” (Random House, $28) tells the story of one such step – the mission undertaken by Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders to become the first men ever to travel to the moon. From meticulous research and hours of interviews springs a lively narrative, one that brings the bravery and brainpower of all involved to vivid life.

Published in Tekk

While there can be conflicts between science and religion, there are commonalities as well. Both seek to find ways to make sense of the universe and our place within it, albeit in largely disparate fashion.

Author and physicist Alan Lightman seeks to spend some time searching for potential intersectionality between the two with his latest book, titled “Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine” (Pantheon, $24.95). Best known for the novel “Einstein’s Dreams,” Lightman has built a literary reputation – in both the fictional realm and the non – on finding ways to make lofty ideas relatable and engaging without being simplistic or condescending. This new book continues that trend as Lightman explores his internal contradictions with regards to the notions of logic and faith.

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 04 April 2018 12:37

‘How to American’ humorous and heartfelt

The United States is a nation of immigrants. And every single one of those immigrants has a different and unique American experience.

Comedian Jimmy O. Yang is probably best known for his role as Jian Yang on HBO’s “Silicon Valley.” He’s also an immigrant; he came to this country as a teenager, moving from Hong Kong to Los Angeles with his family at the age of 13. As you can imagine, it was culture shock of a high order.

Yang’s new book “How to American: An Immigrant’s Guide to Disappointing Your Parents” (Da Capo, $27) relates his experience and how he assimilated – sometimes successfully, sometimes not so much – into this strange new home.

Published in Buzz

As the constant churn of content generation becomes more and more a part of the creative landscape, the value of cultural criticism expands exponentially. Consuming art is important, but understanding the consequences of that consumption is vital as well.

Tom Bissell is one such cultural critic. His collection “Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation” (Vintage, $16.95) features essays whose subject matter runs the gamut from highbrow to lowbrow and back again, all delivered with a combination of insight and wit that provokes thought with a concise cleverness.

Throughout these 18 pieces, Bissell addresses artistic questions large and small. He rails against the artificial and embraces the genuine. He is very clear about what he likes … and VERY clear about what he does not. He’s not about pulling punches, but nor is he stingy with his praise. When it comes to art, love it or hate it, Tom Bissell is passionate about it.

Published in Buzz

Bohjalian’s twist-laden mystery an energetic and exciting read

Published in Buzz
Tuesday, 06 March 2018 16:28

The art of war - ‘Bring Out the Dog’

From every war comes art inspired by that war. The pressures and pains of conflict have proven fertile ground for creators since the days of ancient Greece and Homer’s “Iliad.” There’s loads of room for disparate feelings and emotions - hurt, heart, humor, hubris and much more – in tales from the battlefield.

America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are no different; some remarkable art has sprung from those fallow fields. Music, movies, literature – all have found ways to reflect the people, places and ideas of our country’s lengthy hitch in the Middle East.

With his debut collection “Bring Out the Dog” (Random House, $27), Will Mackin has produced something that holds up alongside the very best war literature of the 21st century. These remarkable stories – 11 in all – are inspired by Mackin’s time deployed with a special ops task force in both Iraq and Afghanistan. They began life as notes jotted down on torn-off flaps of cardboard boxes or even on his own forearm. From there, these thoughts and observations made their way into Mackin’s journals. And those journals served as the foundational material to build this book.

Published in Style

Book offers thoughts on mankind’s outer space destiny

Published in Tekk
Tuesday, 27 February 2018 16:59

The weird wonder of ‘Rice Boy’

As a book reviewer, a lot of requests come across your desk. There are so many talented people out there doing wonderful work – too many for one person to explore fully. There’s no doubt that some incredible opportunities have slipped by me.

But sometimes, you take a chance on the unknown and are rewarded with something stunning.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 21 February 2018 11:54

After the end - ‘The Rending and the Nest’

Post-apocalyptic novel challenging and complex

Published in Buzz

One could argue that the idea of a world where magic works has been done to death in the realm of fantasy fiction. Whether you’re talking about urban fantasy set in the present day or fiction with a more historical bent, it’s a creative vein that has been pretty thoroughly mined.

And yet, when it works, it REALLY works. And Tom Miller’s “The Philosopher’s Flight” (Simon & Schuster, $26) REALLY works.

Published in Buzz
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