Agatha Christie’s The Pale Horse: When Science Becomes Superstition

  Murder mystery novels like The Moonstone and The Woman in White established a template for the genre whereby reasoned and scientific minds take on mysteries that are seemingly supernatural, ultimately revealing their conventional and rational nature.  In keeping with the tradition set before her, the queen of mystery, Agatha Christie, composed The Pale Horse, which demonstrates […]

Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers: An Existentialist, Ecocritical Western

Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers has been praised as a witty and engaging picaresque novel that turns the traditional western on its head and interjects it with a wry, satirical humour that makes the sometimes tired genre seem fresh.  However, the novel is far more than a clever and quirky take on the western: it […]

The ‘Amazing’ Adventures of Kavalier & Clay? Even Pulitzer Prize Winning Novels Need Work

Having won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and been nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, as well as becoming a New York Times Best Seller, the general consensus of Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay seems to be favourable.  However, upon reading the work, it seems as though there are several issues plaguing […]

Toni Morrison’s Tar Baby: An Ecocolonial Reading

In her novel Tar Baby, Toni Morrison writes that “No man should live without absorbing the sins of his kind” (243), noting that “the foul air of [man’s] innocence” has wilted the “rows of angel trumpets and cause[d] them to fall from their vines” (243).  Though the novel explores the complexities of the construct of race, […]

The Unorthodox Corpse: The Detective’s Blazon vs. Female Autonomy

The detective novels penned by Alan Geoffrey Yates under the pseudonym Carter Brown offer a descriptive approach as to how women were viewed in sexual terms during the mid-20th century. His novel The Unorthodox Corpse is no exception.  In it, he employs the detective-era blazon, which catalogues a woman’s physical attributes like a traditional sonnet, […]

The Gardener’s Son: Diagnosing America’s Psyche

Cormac McCarthy’s The Gardener’s Son is a poignant and eloquent story that explores the schizophrenic breakdown of the American psyche caused by a legislated diet of capitalism.  In it, McCarthy examines the privileged class, contrasting the values of those born into wealth with those who have earned it.  He also documents the compartmentalization of Christian […]

“The Negro Speaks of Rivers”: Langston Hughes and Ecocolonial Poetry

  In his monograph Black Sin, White Masks, Frantz Fanon notes the many ways in which the descendants of Africa have been linked with the natural realm, often in a disparaging manner. He writes that they have been referred to as beasts, or have been identified as “the missing link between the ape and man” […]

Zora Neale Hurston’s “Sweat”: An Ecofeminist Master’s Class in Symbolism and Dialect

  Though Zora Neale Hurston’s “Sweat” is only 4743 words long (about 15 pages), the scope of the work reaches farther than most novels.  Within this small space, Hurston addresses a number of themes, such as the trials of femininity, which she explores with compelling and efficient symbolism.  This is woven together with an ecocritical/ecofeminist […]

Black Girl Lost: An Existentialist Journey Through An American Ghetto

  Donald Goines lacked the education and literary pedigree to write as eloquently as the likes of Cormac McCarthy or Toni Morrison, and while other American writers of his generation were brought up on Steinbeck and Faulkner, Goines was brought up on Iceberg Slim.  Drawing on his own experience, though, Goines was able to write as van Gogh painted, […]

Jean-Baptiste Clamence: The Existentialist Rambler

  In his eulogy for Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre said that The Fall was likely Camus’s “finest and least understood” book.  Given that Sartre’s most famous work, Huis Clos (or No Exit), bemoans that “hell is other people”, and that the protagonist of The Fall, Jean-Baptiste Clamence, spends his life tormented by the thought of […]