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A Disconnect in The Feed

In a period often referred to as the “information age,” the notion of technological addiction is a fairly pervasive reality, and very much a hot topic of conversation. Written for an audience primed with various science-fiction films and novels about this idea, the expectations for The Feed, Nick Clark Windo’s debut novel, were high. With a title that overtly references the main aspect of popular social media: one’s facebook feed, twitter feed, instagram feed, etc., there was a sense of relevancy to the novel that was almost immediately debunked by the end of chapter one. The novel evoked commentary similar to that of Dave Eggers’s novel The Circle (2013) in an atmosphere of mass-death and suspect forces akin to Oryx and Crake (2003) by Margaret Atwood. However, the execution of The Feed lacked the subtlety and mind-warping prose that allowed for the success of its forebears.

A Mother's Reckoning by Sue Klebold

Books You Should Read in March

1. A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy  

Author: Sue Klebold

Genre: Nonfiction

By Sue Klebold, the mother of Dylan Klebold, perpetrator of the Columbine High School Massacre in 1999, this moving memoir details how she came to terms with her son’s horrific actions, which have haunted her for the past eighteen years. Following the tragedy, Klebold continuously reexamined her role as a mother, her faith, and the possible causes and warning signs of her son’s behavior. In light of the recent school shooting in Florida, this book further highlights the urgent need for reevaluating mental health care and gun laws in this country.  

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JONES | A Long, Long Febegans Break

A few weeks ago, former Arts editor Troy Sherman ‘18 and I decided to ruin our February break. Instead of going on a trip with friends, catching up on sleep and work or just spending time thinking and relaxing, we chose to spend a good portion of the break in close quarters, reading pages and pages of near-nonsense. When others asked us what we planned to do over break, we’d respond, with a mix of self-conscious amusement and embarrassment, “We’re going to read Finnegans Wake aloud.”

Why? I’m not entirely sure, looking back, how the seed of this idea was first planted. I’m an avid fan of the Irish writer James Joyce, and I think at some point last semester I realized that if I didn’t read Finnegans Wake — his final and by far most difficult work — now, while I’m in college and have friends like Troy that will do ridiculous, simultaneously self-flagellating and self-indulgent things like this with me, then I might never read it.

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Discussing Death from Beyond the Grave: Denis Johnson’s Final Stories

 

Few authors can place their readers in wildly uncomfortable situations with unreliable characters and still leave them with a sense of poignancy like Denis Johnson. In his long-awaited collection of stories The Largesse of the Sea Maiden, Johnson weaves together five fairly disjunctive tales, all of which mimic the style of Jesus’s Son, one of his most accredited works. However, in his most recent book, published posthumously in January 2018, Johnson’s writing is slightly darker than his previous works. There’s something more resonant about the lessons these stories teach the reader, considering that they come from the grave. Perhaps Johnson describes the experience of reading his work best in the opening of “Strangler Bob” when he says, “you hop into a car, race off in no particular direction, and blam, hit a power pole.”

The Largesse of the Sea Maiden is in many ways a follow-up to Jesus’s Son in that it shares some of the same characters, but more so in the way it evokes the same sort of humanizing tone to discuss recurring struggles in his stories.

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Multitudes of Identities in Multitudes of Stories: Emotional Empathy in Five-Carat Soul

In James McBride’s latest short story collection Five-Carat Soul, McBride tackles an era of history dominated by contentious social and racial dynamics through the a lens that humanizes the oppressed. Through each story, McBride reveals social truths about groups ranging from PhD students at Columbia University to war veterans to lower class African Americans in the wake of desegregation. Each story takes the reader through emotional, often heart-breaking encounters that demonstrate different pains of the human condition: love, trauma, injustice and acceptance, among others. Through his clear but poignant prose, McBride emulates the sort of rational and telling voices of historic authors whose literature exposed cultural norms, even if such norms were unflattering. His prose is didactic guised as charming, thus going beyond simply conveying the multiple personalities and experiences, but more broadly conveying an era of post-traumatic stress, whether it be racial, economic, political, or a hybrid of the three.

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Manhattan Beach Finds Comfort in Chaos

Manhattan Beach, Jennifer Egan’s eagerly awaited follow-up after winning the Pulitzer Prize in 2010, does not disappoint. Manhattan Beach covers themes of war, economic depression, and the cultural revolutions of the time, as it takes place in New York City in the early to mid-twentieth century,. Through the life of courageous protagonist Anna Kerrigan, Egan demonstrates the changing societal roles of women during World War II and the variety of pressures placed on women. Weaving through the lives of multiple characters, all of whom serve their own distinct roles in New York society, Egan gives a socio-economically diverse lens into the criminal culture of the era, and does so through her endlessly engaging prose. The novel begins along Manhattan Beach at gangster Dexter Styles’s grand mansion along the water.

COURTESY OF PENGUIN BOOKS

Upward Spiral: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

If I closed my eyes, I could picture vividly the last time I read a book by John Green. I was high school sophomore then, and had the luxury to spend entire afternoons reading non-academic books. The book I picked that day was The Fault in Our Stars, and it made me stay in the same armchair for hours. Fast-forward four years, and there are some things that haven’t changed all that much. The heroine of John Green’s new novel Turtles All the Way Down is much like Hazel Grace as she’s a quirky, nerdy sixteen-year-old girl who embarks on an adventure and encounters friendship and love along the way, all the while battling a chronic illness that stands between her and happiness.

An excerpt from "everyone's a aliebn when ur a aliebn too"

An Alien Knows More About Me Than I Ever Will

Be it often or seldom, we are reminded just how ridiculous our society and morals are. We get sad for no reason, we get grumpy, we’re ungrateful when we have everything given to us and treat each other like garbage. Jonny Sun’s illustrated novel, Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too, is all about the weird ways of “humabns,” the concepts they’ve created and the way that they deal with feelings, fears and each other.

COURTESY OF PENGUIN

White Tears: Transcending Time

Hari Kunzru’s new novel White Tears takes the reader on a historical rollercoaster that weaves between the real and the surreal. A novel that comments on various dimensions of the race problem in America, White Tears transports both the novel’s protagonist, Seth, and its audience between contemporary New York City and Southern states under the oppression of Jim Crow. Kunzru skillfully navigates a complex novel with a plot that is not simply entertaining, but one that also carries an important message about the notions of culture and “post-racial America.”

The Wall Street Journal claims that “Kunzru can rival…any current novelist with the strength of his prose and imaginative blondness,” and indeed his latest novel proves this statement true. A Brooklyn native, Kunzru does an incredible job of painting the city in vivid shades of grit and romance. The first half of the novel, carried by the New York City setting, portrays a tangible realism that depicts the protagonists’ specious “struggling artist” identities.

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Actually, No One Is OK

Darcie Wilder’s novel literally show me a healthy person is a constant yet broken inner monologue in which commas, periods and uppercase letters are scarce, while strangely specific bad memories, death and ex-boyfriends are abundant. There are no chapters, no coherent paragraphs and definitely no chronology. As it turns out, Darcie Wilder knew the recipe for the perfect book all along: all you need is the internet, a large helping of bad experiences, humor and — if you’re as deranged and edgy as Darcie Wilder — you can also kill grammar because in your scattered mind, there are no such thing as rules and organization. Through confusion and memory, literally show me a healthy person taught me many things, among them the fact that either I am already just as deranged as edgy as Wilder, or I will get there very very soon. The novel is meant to tell stories that will make the reader think either “This is weirdly specific and it sounds like something terrible to go through, yet here I am laughing,” or “Yeah that actually happened to me too and I thought I was the only one.” Each anecdote triggers different memories in different people, creating a highly intimate, roller coaster-like,  soul-finding journey for everyone.