Books

Evil Boy Genius

Recently I started making my way through Irish author Eoin "It's Pronounced 'Owen'!" Colfer's popular Artemis Fowl series. I'll admit, I'm rather behind on the times -- the original Artemis Fowl was published in 2001, and the following four books (plus one due out this July) about the boy genius have emerged at roughly the rate of one per year.

I believe it was in early 2004 that a fellow student of fine literature mentioned the Fowl series to me and heartily recommended them -- knowing that I had just finished the latest Harry Potter installment, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and would have to wait another year for the next segment of the Hogwarts adventure. The magical elements and witty writing style of Colfer's work were sure to appeal. I have mentioned before that young adult fiction is not just meant for teenagers -- anyone with a short attention span or simply a love of a well-spun tale is sure to enjoy.

My friend failed to mention the enormous difference between J.K. Rowling's work and Colfer's. Artemis Fowl is a criminal mastermind. That is, he enjoys cheating other people out of money for profit. And he only seems to do it in order to increase his family's fortune, which is already extensive. He gets away with it (and keeps the reader's interest) because he has a high IQ, and some excellent (and entertaining) backup in the form of his martial arts aficionado and gun-wielding 'man-mountain' servant known as Butler.

The reason one reads on is because Artemis is so darned clever, first of all, and secondly, there are moments when his humanity shines through (though he tries so hard to be evil) and the reader begins to like him despite his shabby, selfish actions.

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Like the Harry Potter series, Artemis Fowl is supported by supplementary short stories and even graphic novels; the first Artemis Fowl movie is rumored to be in the works. The books are quick adventures and easy reading; I made it through The Arctic Incident before the break and neglected to check out the third book in the series, The Eternity Code, but it is on my library shortlist.

Last week I wrote optimistically about my spring break reading -- thinking I'd use a little LEPrecon fairy magic to stop time and get through a stack of magazines. Unsurprisingly, not much progress was made. Did you get through your vacation reading?

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

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Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

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Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

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Award-winning folk artist Karine Polwart showcases humankind's innate link to the natural world in her spellbinding new music video.

One of the breakthrough folk artists of our time, Karine Polwart's work is often related to the innate connection that humanity has to the natural world. Her latest album, A Pocket of Wind Resistance, is largely reliant on these themes, having come about after Polwart observed the nature of a pink-footed geese migration and how it could be related to humankind's intrinsic dependency on one another.

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Film

Victory Is Never Assured in ‘Darkest Hour’

Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour (2017) (Photo by Jack English - © 2017 FOCUS FEATURES LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. / IMDB)

Joe Wright's sharp and only occasionally sentimental snapshot of Churchill in extremis as the Nazi juggernaut looms serves as a handy political strategy companion piece to the more abstracted combat narrative of Dunkirk.

By the time a true legend has been shellacked into history, almost the only way for art to restore some sense of its drama is to return to the moment and treat it as though the outcome were not a foregone conclusion. That's in large part how Christopher Nolan's steely modernist summer combat epic Dunkirk managed to sustain tension; that, and the unfortunate yet dependable historical illiteracy of much of the moviegoing public.

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