Beasts of the Southern Wild presents a real problem for me. I love the magic realism yet I hate the reality portrayed. The Bathtub is a magical world on the wrong side of the levee in far south Louisiana. Six year old Hushpuppy lives there with her abusive and alcoholic father. Like the other residents of the Bathtub, they live in squalor in one of the most beautiful landscapes on earth.
If you take the story at face value, it is a disheartening tale of wasted lives and child abuse. However, if you see it as the metaphor the director intended, it is the story of all humanity, striving and mostly failing to overcome our limitations. I'm not sure if "the big picture" really overcomes the darkness of the world of the Bathtub.
This is a movie which will provoke strong reactions. I was completely unsettled by the empty and cruel lives of the characters and yet I was charmed by the magic of the director. This is yet another movie that casts the residents of the deep south in a very negative light. It was filmed in far south Terrebonne Parish, a place of great natural beauty and danger.
This movie isn't for everyone, but if you look beneath the surface of the characters' wasted lives there is a profound message to be read.
Philosophy has fallen out of favor. Those who study the world as it is call themselves scientists and are interested only in what can be actually observed and measured--with what is "real." Those whose field is creative are artists and writers and theologians and they focus on what might be. Philosophy is the point where these two seemingly disparate approaches come together. Academics today seem to focus narrowly on their own small world leaving the big questions for the undergraduates who aren't properly indoctrinated in any particular field yet.
Jim Holt takes on the challenge of bringing the two approaches to bear on his big question: Why Does the World Exist? Holt talks with scientists, theologians, philosophers and writers as he looks for the answer to the ultimate question (According to Douglas Adams the answer is 42. But that is yet another philosophical quest!)
Holt's book is a layman's guide to the deep thinking of humanity's greatest minds through the centuries, focusing as much on the personalities as the thoughts. This is a very challenging and energizing book, as it looks at life from all perspectives.
It really isn't a spoiler to report that Holt does not find the answer. It is, after all, the quest that really matters. His most perceptive observation is his final quote from Ambrose Bierce: "Philosophy, n. A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing."
I highly recommend this book to anyone who has wondered "why this world and not another (or nothing at all!)" or if you're just curious about the state of philosophy today.
George Tenet was director of the CIA during what might be the most difficult time the agency ever faced. 9/11 was the first time Americans truly understood that terrorism could happen in the United States, that we were not a immune from the ills of the rest of the world.
In At the Center of the Storm, Tenet details his years at the CIA under both Bill Clinton and George Bush. He provides minute detail of the events of that period helping the reader to understand just what happened.
And what a lot happened! Tenet does not shy away from taking blame for what he did wrong, but he also names names when it comes to who was responsible for what activities. Several times he repeats the phrase: you have the right to your own opinion but not your own facts. That seems to have been one of the problems of the time: the CIA provided the facts but others provided spin.
If you are interested in politics, spy craft, or even interpersonal relationships, you will enjoy this book. Whatever your political leanings you will learn from George Tenet, who was a major power broker during one of the most volatile periods in American history.
Wow. That's all I could say after reading 13 1/2. Nevada Barr is probably my favorite mystery writer, if not one of my all-time favorites. I love Anna Pigeon and her rugged yet sexy personality. I love the national parks and Anna's relationship with nature. I even love the suspense, tension and danger of the Anna Pigeon novels.
I was completely unprepared for 13 1/2. It is a psychological thriller beyond anything I've read recently. Unrelentingly tense, the book kept me unsettled for days. If you like thrillers, you absolutely MUST read this book!
Polly Deschamps is a divorced Tulane English professor. She has escaped a dark past and managed to make a pleasant life with her two daughters. She falls in love with restoration architect Marshall Marchand whose own dark past has never been fully overcome. The characters partially restored lives are echoed by post-Katrina New Orleans. Darkness engulfs them as they swirl through the partially reconstructed landscape with fortune-tellers, mass murderers and assorted New Orleans characters.
If you enjoy Nevada Barr for here deft characterizations and descriptions of nature, this may not be your book. But if you like Thomas Harris you will enjoy this.
In this stand-alone adventure, Ridley Pearson leaves his series detective Lou Bolt behind. Parallel Lies features former homicide cop Peter Tyler who is trying to redeem himself after being unjustly fired. A friend gets him a job investigating a murder in a boxcar for the railroad. Tyler finds that very little about the situation makes any sense. He finds what he assumes is a serial killer out to revenge the deaths of his wife and daughter in a railroad accident. Nothing is as it appears at first, of course, but Tyler brings the investigation to a satisfying conclusion.
Student Work from the Mississippi School of the Arts is on
display from March 6-29 at the Lincoln County Public Library. The group
show represents works taken from a range of foundation and advanced classes.
The exhibition demonstrates a broad variety of expression, from basic
techniques and studies to specifically focused, research based
projects. The work showcases efforts by those students from the
state who have chosen discipline base Visual Arts as a primary focus during
their junior and senior years of study. The show’s reception is on Wednesday,
March 27 and lasts from 4 to 5 pm.The
show and reception are free and open to the public.
Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the traditional beginning of Lent when we prepare for the celebration of Easter. Each year, I try to spend at least a few minutes re-reading and thinking about T.S. Eliot's great poem "Ash Wednesday." This year the lines that stuck with me were:
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
It is well worth your time to pull up the poem and consider it during this season of preparation.
And, moving from the sublime to the, well, less sublime, I recently read Jerry B. Jenkins Riven. The book is classed as "Inspirational," but I personally found it to be depressing. And yet, I also found myself with tears in my eyes as Jenkins brought his characters to their very predictable conclusions. This is the story of a "trailer trash" boy with no father and a drunken mother with more "boyfriends" than he could count. He is a smart, promising child with great talent and charisma who falls continually into the wrong path. It is also the story of a small church pastor who is afraid he has wasted his life because he has not spread the Word as well as he feels he should have. The majority of the book is sad and most of the plotting is cliche, however, I was deeply moved as the final scene played out.
The message in the end is positive, but you've go to wade through a lot of suffering to get there!
Lou Boldt is one of the best fictional detectives around today. His character is beautifully crafted and his police work is creative and effective.
In The First Victim, Ridley Pearson expands on Boldt's personality and personal life while presenting a gripping thriller. Boldt's wife is suffering with cancer and Boldt's financial situation is making him contemplate leaving the force for a better paying private job. The discovery of the dead victims of a ruthless gang of smugglers focuses his attention on his current career.
The First Victim is a great read. It is a classic police procedural combined with enough personal detail to make the characters appealing.
I've got to start out by admitting that I really am not a fan of Nicholas Sparks. Most of his plots are saccharine and predictable. His characters are often cliches. But his writing isn't that bad. True Believer exhibits all of these characteristics--and that's what made it so enjoyable to me right now.
Sometimes it is fun to just escape. Sparks' books are generally set on the beautiful North Carolina coast with scenes set on the outer banks and in the charming small towns inland. His story may be predictable, but that is a plus when life gets a little too complicated and you want everything to work out right in the end.
Jeremy March is a typical New York yuppie--rich, successful and dressed in black. He comes to Boone Creek to investigate the ghostly appearance of lights in the community cemetery. He meets the town librarian and her psychic mother and, following a number of adventures and predictable plot twists, lives happily ever after.
True Believer is a long way from great literature, but it is a wonderfully readable escape from whatever distractions are complicating your life.
Ridley Pearson has written some of the best suspense novels in the library, and The Pied Piper is no exception. The story starts off as a fairly straightforward thriller. Series character Lou Boldt is called in on a case involving several kidnapped children. But we soon realize nothing in the story is straightforward and there are serious complications and implications in these cases that cast many upstanding law enforcement officers in a bad light. Even Boldt, one of the most honest cops you could imagine, comes in for his own temptation.
The Pied Piper has a fast moving plot, but also has intriguing characters who develop as the story progresses. This book is a roller coaster ride from start to finish.