Paulo Coelho, The Spy: A Novel Of Mata Hari

Image result for the spy coelhoPaulo Coelho, author of The Alchemist and The Witch of Portobello, again bewitches readers with The Spy, a novel based on the life of Mata Hari.

Based on real events

Based around the historical facts surrounding her life and 1917 arrest, Coelho weaves together a first-hand account of what really happened during her life – how she felt, and justifies some of the reasons for her actions.

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The Prologue describes Mata’s gruesome execution by firing squad. Imagining her final moments as she gets dressed for a final time and fearlessly faces her own death with open eyes – refusing to be blindfolded. Continue reading

Ottessa Moshfegh, Homesick For Another World

Image result for ottessa moshfegh the weirdosHomesick For Another World, Ottessa Moshfegh’s collection of short stories, comprises a selection of her previously published pieces, culminating in a grand anthology that exemplifies Moshfegh’s work precisely. The published book helpfully gathers most of her published short stories together in one accessible volume (excluding only three: “Medicine”, Vice, December 1, 2007; “Disgust”, The Paris Review, No. 202, Fall 2012; and “Brom”, Granta, Issue 139, 2017). A Better Place is the only chapter that was written for the book itself. It stands alone as an ending to the book, but also as a new piece within itself.

The author of the best-seller Eileen has a distinctly identifiable style:

You know, I like weird characters. I don’t know any normal people [laughs]. I do like cliches in my satire: the hipster in the story dancing in the moonlight is a distillation of all the hipsters I knew when younger. I tend to be mean, huh? I’m really hard on men, especially older men.

Moshfegh deliberately chooses to write about the dirtiest and grimiest of our human activities, describing things we all do, the dark things, and finds beauty in the fact that we all indeed have that same darkness within. These stories illuminate the dark truth of human nature, told raw and real, with a morbid sarcasm and dry wit. Continue reading

Orange Is The New Black, Season 5 Episode 7: Poussey’s Library

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Orange Is The New Black routinely pays homage to its form, by referencing books throughout the entire Netflix original series. After the first season, the show heavily diverges from the truth of the memoir it was based on, though the show still makes an effort to honor books by including them in the characters lives. Not only do inmates rely on story to get through their incarceration, but their incarceration becomes a story (ie. Orange Is The New Black: A Memoir by Piper Kerman).

OITNB may weave a tall tale, but a tale that is rooted in truth. Although the lives of Chapman and the other inmates depicted on the show are fictitious, they are based on real people in true situations. The show brings to light real issues that exist within the prison system, and educates us while entertaining us.

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Books Referenced in OITNB

If you love Orange Is The New Black, you are no doubt familiar with the bookish-ness of the show. Not only is the show based on the published memoir of Piper Kerman, but the characters consistently reference and are shown reading modern books from the real world. Often the books hold significance, either to the plot line or to the development of the characters – either way, the books are significant.

With the release of the 5th season of OITNB (June 9th), we revisited the first four seasons and compiled a list of the books mentioned throughout the show.

Find our commentary comparing the memoir Orange Is The New Black to the Netflix Original series here.  Visit the Books of Orange is the New Black tumblr account, or BookRiot, for more on the books read and referenced in the show. Continue reading

Interview with Rebecca Dunham

Rebecca Dunham is a poet an2016-author-photo-1-300x225d Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she teaches creative writing. Her work has been described as post-confessional and concerns itself with feminist and ecological issues. Her most recent publication, Cold Pastoral, is a collection of poems based on modern ecological disasters such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. She has published four other collections of poetry, including Fascicle, Glass Armonica, The Miniature Room, and The Flight Cage.

Q: What does Cold Pastoral mean, for you? What do you hope readers gain after reading the poems?

Personally, the book marks a point in my life when I had to take stock of my place in the world around me, as well as the function of poetry within that world. For readers, I hope that the poet-speaker’s journey will resonate with those of us who may mean well, but who have also blinded ourselves to the mounting human and environmental crises around us. I would hope that the book will encourage readers to consider their responsibility to others, as well as potential for language and literature to enact change. Continue reading

Cold Pastoral, Rebecca Dunham

Dunham’s poetry comes to us at a desperate time. We currently face the ecological threats of global warming, as exacerbated by our human interactions with the world we inhabit. Pollution, over-population, and deforestation are serious hazards to our environment, and Dunham understands our human contribution to the problem. With her poems, she hopes to educate and inform readers of the very real consequences of forgetting to care for the Earth.

This collection examines the man-made and/or human-influenced natural disasters of our time: the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, Hurricane Katrina and its devastating aftermath, and the Flint water crisis.  Dunham tactfully weaves desolate poems with evidenciary support, creating a powerful report on what really happened with the Oil Spill.  Continue reading

A Crown Of Wishes

Image result for a crown of wishesThe sequel to Roshani Chokshi’s debut novel The Star-Touched Queen remains equally adventurous as the first, transporting the reader to the far-away otherworldly lands of Bharata & Ujijain, Alaka and beyond, this time following Mayavati’s younger sister Gauri on her own journey of self-reflection and self-discovery. Filled with adventure, politics, friendships, sisterhood, romance, illusion, transformation, sacrifices, trials and tribulations, A Crown of Wishes weaves an otherworldly story, carried on the wings of birds with feathers of glittering gold.

In A Crown of Wishes we find Gauri, the legendary warrior princess of Bharata, exiled and imprisoned in Ujijain at her brother Skanda’s command. Scorned by her people for the lies Skanda has spread, Gauri faces execution in Ujijain. But Vikram, the cunning ‘Fox Prince’ of Ujijain, sees her potential and offers Gauri a chance at redemption. Together, they enter the Tournament of Wishes with hopes of winning a wish from The Lord of Treasures that would secure them their greatest desires. Continue reading

Reaper, Jill McDonough

ReaperJill McDonough’s book of poetry Reaper is written at a desperate time for humanity. We currently face the very real threats of overpopulation, pollution and global warming, all of which stir up questions of control and technology. McDonough brings awareness to these issues while at the same time providing hope for the future.

McDonough predicts that the loss of our humanity, of nature, and the loss of human nature – the loss of the self – will all be, in part, due to the rise of technology. We, as a species, are becoming numb to our own desires, “wanting … wanting” (10). People are currently content to be “distracted” (16), brainwashed, in a sense, numb to life. We take for granted the little things, things that don’t require technology, like emotions, feelings, or experiences; the more we allow technology to rule our loves, the more we lose sight of our true selves.

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La Belle et La Bête, or Beauty and the Beast: Comparing literature & film

By now, any Disney fan will have seen the new and highly anticipated Live-Action remake of Beauty and the Beast.

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A young woman whose father has been imprisoned by a terrifying beast offers herself in his place, unaware that her captor is actually a prince, physically altered by a magic spell.

Disney’s animated classic takes on a new form, with a widened mythology and an all-star cast. A young prince, imprisoned in the form of a beast, can be freed only by true love. What may be his only opportunity arrives when he meets Belle, the only human girl to ever visit the castle since it was enchanted.

It has been regarded by fans that Disney has tactfully captured the essence of the original cartoon which so touched our hearts as young children, but how faithful do these Disney remakes remain to the original tale of La Belle et la Bête?

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