The Pulitzer Prize is an annual awards given to excellence in newspaper and online journalism, literature, and musical composition and are administered by Columbia University in New York City. The 2013 awards were announced yesterday. For books, the following awards were given.
Ambitious and inventive, this novel is set in an orphanage in North Korea. Protagonist Pak Jun Do is forced to become a fighting tunnel expert and a kidnapper before he takes his fate into his own hands. Johnson is able to tell the tale of touching humanity set within the backdrop of a brutal regime. Read more about 2013 Pulitzer Prize Winners
Roger Ebert, film critic extraordinaire and Pulitzer Prize winner, died last week after a battle with cancer. Immediately following his death, there were lots of quotes circulating online from Ebert which reminded me what a great writer he was. In writing about movies, Ebert was able often able to put his finger on the pulse of real life human behavior and articulate the human condition - both the happy and the sad. I forgot how funny he was, and his reviews are a joy to read even if you disagree on the rating.
Those interested in starting with the basics, check out his Movie Yearbooks - complete with movie reviews, essays, tributes, journal entries, and new additions to his popular Movie Glossary. If you are looking for critiques that might lead you to viewing of really good movies, try The Great Movie series. However, some of Ebert's best writing was in critiquing bad movies. If you aren't looking for movie suggestions, but just some hilarious examples of his writing check out Your Movie Sucks. Read more about Roger Ebert: Film Critic and Writer
In college, I often dreamed of tsunamis. The waves were enormously high and transported me far inland but were amazingly gentle behemoths that if I did not fight against, eventually landed me upon the shore without any damage. The tsunami that struck Sir Lanka the day after Christmas 2004 was nothing like these, but was instead brutal, fierce, and deadly.
Imagine losing your husband, two sons, and both parents on the same day. This unbelievable tragedy happened to this British economist. The memoir starts quietly with her description of a typical morning at a beach resort in Southern Sri Lanka that her family had been visiting since her childhood. Sonali knew all the hotel staff and park rangers; the place meant home to her and her family. Ironically, the family was packing to go home later that day.
As her children are dressing, she speaks to a close friend who has accompanied them on their holiday outing. Suddenly, both women notice an unusual wave in the far distance. Sonali calls to her husband in the bathroom, but Read more about Tsunami Trauma
There is nothing like the adventure of a good spy movie. Undercover Blues is nothing like a good spy movie, it is however a spy parody. This 1993 movie stars Kathleen Turner and Dennis Quaid as Jane and Jefferson Blue, two spies out on maternity leave in the city of New Orleans, who are called back into action with their newborn in tow. The Blues are the type of people you want in a tense moment, nothing fazes them and they always seem to be in control, even if they aren't
Undercover Blues is not a fall on your face laughing parody like Spy Hard, or Top Secret which try to hit you with one joke after another hoping that if you didn't like the last joke you'll like the next one. It is more like watching the James Garner Western parody Support Your Local Sheriff. The humor is a little dry and will make you chuckle. It is willing to take its time to build a joke and wait for the pay off. Dennis Quaid plays Jefferson Blue as a little cocky and sure of himself. Kathleen Turner seems more like a typical housewife, but with a bit of sultriness to her as well. They want to give the impression they are just like everyone else when it is obvious they are not. Undercover Blues is lighthearted comedy with villains that are more than a little over the top. You'll find a little violence and a touch of sexiness, but nothing out of the PG range. In all Undercover Blues is a film that you don't have to think about too hard and that you can sit back and enjoy.
I picked up Richard Russo's latest book with some hesitation. I knew Elsewhere was a memoir about his relationship with his mother, but I remembered that in his last novel, That Old Cape Magic, he had created a decidedly crazy "mother" character. But as is so often the case with memoirs, the first sentence hooked me.
Because he was an only child and his parents separated when he was very young, Russo and his mom shared an extremely close relationship. In the 50s she had a job for General Electric, dated engineers, and dressed elegantly. Her independence was extremely important to her, but it took Richard years to understand that she depended on her parents bail-outs to survive. It didn't help that Russo's dad contributed almost nothing to the household or that women were paid poor wages.
This book is also an exploration of a place - the town of Gloversville where Russo grew up and which he's fictionalized in his novels. It was a town built on making gloves; in fact, his grandparents did this. It was hard, polluting work and when the government cracked down on water pollution, the whole operation moved overseas. But in small-town Gloversville surrounded by relatives, Russo felt secure and loved. Read more about Bad Parent, Good Child
This summer will be the 150 year anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, one of the deadliest periods of the Civil War. The three days saw record causalities and is also considered one of the turning points of the war. Instead of breaking out a dusty nonfiction tome, consider The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. This fiction book does a good job at adequately describing the events that did occur, but shines at getting into the heads of the major players. We meet Lee, Longstreet and Chamberlain and start to understand their thoughts, positions, opinions and fears as they prepare and head into battle. This is well researched, and really readable. The maps give you a good visual perspective as well.
One of the things I love most about history is not only learning the outcomes and the details of the events that took place, but investigating the other possibilities, thinking about the what-ifs, and figuring out the decisions that went into what really happened. Read more about Civil War Fiction