July 24, 2016
By Mark Haddon Doubleday. 320 pp. $26.95. Reviewed by Katie Haegele Only two pages into "The Pier Falls," the first and title story in Mark Haddon's first collection of short fiction, the author is already describing, in devastating detail, the events of a pier collapse on the English seaside. The girders underneath, damaged in a storm months earlier, give way and send dozens of vacationers to their deaths in the cold, dark sea. As powerful as the descriptions are, the emotional dislocation remains.
October 20, 2015 |
Keep it tight. Five minutes; tops. No notes. No props. No music. Just words. Make it poignant, or funny, or outrageous; preferably all three. Above all, make it true. Those are the rules for "story slams," a burgeoning phenomenon in the region - and in other areas of the country - that mines one of humanity's most ancient traditions: storytelling. Locally, it was six years ago that West Chester resident Jim Breslin tweeted out a question: Did anyone know of those open-mike storytelling competitions known as story slams?
August 8, 2014 |
SHILLINGTON, Pa. - With a fresh coat of white paint and a green moat of surgically cropped lawn, the house where John Updike grew into adolescence sits prettily along a busy road in this suburb of Reading. But inside is the detritus of renovation-in-progress - bare floorboards, stripped walls, paint cans, bent nails, wood splinters, patches of wallpaper - covered in dust. "These things take time," sighs Maria Mogford, curator of the John Updike Childhood Home. "We wanted it to be ready this fall, but ... it has a way to go. " When it opens, probably next year, the site will join childhood residences-turned-museums of other famed American authors.
February 10, 2013
Philadelphia was the home of Silas Weir Mitchell, a 19th-century physician and author who specialized in nervous disorders and hysteria. Mitchell, the son of noted physician John Kearsley Mitchell, was born Feb. 15, 1829, and he attended the University of Pennsylvania and Jefferson Medical College. His career took off after the Civil War, as he delved further into the field of neurology. He was the first to describe erythromelalgia, which was then called "Mitchell's Disease," a disorder that attacks a patient's extremities (hands, arms, and feet)
November 24, 2012
By Junot Diaz Riverhead Books. 213 pp. $26.95 Reviewed by Martha Woodall In the words of the MacArthur Foundation, which recently awarded him a $500,000 "genius grant," Junot Diaz is "a fiction writer using vernacular dialogue and spare, unsentimental prose to draw readers into the various and distinct worlds that immigrants must straddle. " True enough. But those measured words fail to convey the dazzle, punch, sly wit, and subtle gravitas that this Dominican-born storyteller packs into his narratives.
March 23, 2012 |
CHILLS, BOUTS of depression, loss of appetite: These are all symptoms of "The Hunger Games" hangover. After devouring Suzanne Collins' kid-killing trilogy and checking out the long-anticipated film adaptation, we understand if you are left wanting - nay! - needing more. Here's how to get your "Hunger" fix while you wait for the film's second installment, "Catching Fire," which is expected November 2013. Literature "The Giver": While many would point to William Golding's Lord of the Flies as the obvious antecedent to The Hunger Games, we see more in common with Lois Lowry's classic about a society that is so devoid of free will that people can't even see colors.
February 24, 2012 |
Two years after singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell released the ambitious and career-defining folk opera Hadestown - a musical retelling of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice set in Depression-era America - she's back with a decidedly different but equally ambitious effort, Young Man in America. Produced by Todd Sickafoose, who also helmed Hadestown, the new album features several New York-based rock and experimental jazz musicians, and has Mitchell inhabiting several musical characters, male and female.
January 26, 2012 |
TORONTO - Even just five months ago, in the late-summer days of the Toronto International Film Festival, audiences who saw Albert Nobbs knew: Glenn Close, Oscar nomination. On Tuesday, their presentiment was borne out, and how could it not be? As the title character of the small-budgeted, bighearted tale of a late-19th-century Dubliner who spends her life disguised as a man, Close is funny, poignant, and so deep into her role that you forget you're watching the psycho-stalker of Fatal Attraction , the debauched aristo of Dangerous Liaisons , the lethal litigator of TV's Damages . Instead, you're looking at a tiny, timid creature - so lost in the quiet order of her lonely life, so fearful of being found out - that she does everything she can to not be there.
November 27, 2011 |
SEOUL, South Korea - There's the grown son bridging the distance with his alcoholic father, an old woman's girlhood memories of working in her grandfather's dumpling restaurant, a student's search for an inspiring former teacher. Like pages ripped from a diary, they are personal stories about love, loss, and just coping with everyday life in this crowded and stressful society. But these private thoughts are presented in a public place: The short tales, signed by their authors, are part of a new storytelling program on Seoul's Metropolitan Subway System.
June 3, 2011 |
Will Sheff, the leader of Okkervil River, the mostly Austin, Texas-based band that will co-headline The Trocadero on Friday night, with New Jersey punk-rockers Titus Andronicus opening, was on the phone last week from Brooklyn, where he has lived for the last three years. And since it was his first day home after three weeks on the road, Sheff was not only fielding questions about I Am Very Far, the well-wrought and rocked-out new Okkervil River album, he was also taking care of domestic duties.