Toni Morrison’s Beloved: Contextual Morality

  In his novel Waterland, Graham Swift suggests that history is a means of forgetting.  If this is the case, then Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved is an attempt to remember and revive one of those stories that history has chosen to exclude from its annals.  The novel tells the story of a woman named Sethe […]

Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club: Walden for the 21st Century

  There was a period, around the time we all gasped a sigh of relief that the Y2K bug was not a problem, but having to hear Cher’s autotuned voice on the radio eight times a day, internet speeds, and the potential release of another Backstreet Boys album were still very much legitimate concerns, that […]

Neil Gaiman’s Coraline: Empowering Female Curiosity

  Neil Gaiman is an expert storyteller, as he demonstrates in his seminal work, The Sandman.  Gaiman makes his foray into children’s novels with Coraline, which as the book jacket will tell you won a great many awards.  The novel is certainly demonstrative of Gaiman’s broad imagination, but it is not an example of Gaiman’s expert […]

Race and Ecocriticism on The Island of Dr. Moreau

  H.G. Wells is perhaps most famous for his work in science fiction, and he is often referred to as the father of that genre.  His most famous works include The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, and The War of the Worlds. In each, he constructs fantastic worlds which serve to emphasize societal concerns, supplying narratives […]

Honey In His Mouth: Misogyny in Crime Fiction

    Lester Dent was a fiction writer during the golden age of the pulp era and wrote over a hundred novels during his career before passing away in his 55th year.  He was most famous for his character ‘Doc Savage’, who, according to Wiki, was a ‘superhuman scientist and adventurer’.  But given that I am […]

Cormac McCarthy’s Outer Dark: Language, Gender, an Thomas Hobbes

  Published in 1968, Outer Dark was Cormac McCarthy’s second novel, and is consistent in spirit with the dark, nihilist undertones of most of McCarthy’s work.  The narrative tells the story of a young woman named Rinthy who has had a child by her brother Culla.  Whilst Rinthy is laid up in bed after giving […]

BUtterfield 8, by John O’Hara: An Exploration of Race, Class, and Gender In The Depression

  John O’Hara broke out on the literary scene with his debut novel Appointment in Samarra and quickly followed it up with Butterfield 8, which would go one to be adopted into a film of the same name starring Elizabeth Taylor.  The film, though, would sanitized O’Hara’s narrative and undermine the class consciousness of O’Hara’s […]

Tom Stoppard’s Jumpers and the Absurdity of Philosophy

After the success of his play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Tom Stoppard released a series of short plays, but Jumpers was the first full-length play produced after this success, and in the spirit of many plays being produced around the same time, it employs what might fairly be called an Absurdist or Surrealist narrative […]

David Henry Hwang’s Ch’ing•lish: Signs, Signifies, and the Corruption of Thought

  I had the privilege of recently reading The Golden Child and M. Butterfly by David Henry Hwang and enjoyed both very much, so I was looking forward to reading another play by Hwang and ended up going with Ch’ing•lish, also known as Zhōngshì Yīngyǔ in Romanized Mandarin/pinyin, or 中式英语 in traditional Mandarin (though those […]

Lao Tzu’s The Tao Te Ching: Nature As God

There are few books I’ve read that have challenged and influence the way I think more than the Tao Te Ching, by Chinese philosopher/poet Lao Tzu.  I usually make an effort to read it once a year, but it seems that a few years have come and gone since last I read it, and so […]

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