Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Book Review: "Fifty Shades of Grey" by E.L. James

The infamous Fifty Shades of Grey. Perhaps it was curiosity or blunt force trauma to the head, but this former Literature major decided to go slumming. My motivation doesn't really matter, what does matter is the fact that not only did I read this book, but I am also reading the second book in the trilogy. My enjoyment of the text has little to do with the quality of writing and everything to do with mindless entertainment. Sometimes you just need an escape, you know, an escape into a virgin's mind when she meets a man of god-like attractiveness who lures her into an erotic sexscape of bondage/discipline, dominance/submission and sadism/masochism (BDSM).

Anastasia Steele is about to graduate from college when she interviews Christian Grey, a young corporate billionaire, as a favor to her journalism savvy roommate, Katherine Kavanagh. If those names make you want to roll your eyes then welcome to my head. Ana is an innocent who has never had a boyfriend, never had sex and never masturbated. Meeting Christian is like flipping a light switch, and suddenly Ana becomes very aware of her own sexuality in proximity to him. Christian, for whatever reason (I suspect virgin radar) is intensely attracted to Ana and commences stalking her. Christian is well aware of his dark and twisted ways and warns Ana that he is dangerous and she should stay away from him, but then he continues to stalk her. Talk about mixed signals.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Book Review: "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" by Ransom Riggs

Photo: Metrokids
Ransom Rigg's debut novel is an interesting exploration of young adult dark fantasy. With a narrative that is more focused on the art of an unfolding mystery and less with the speed of an action or thriller the novel feels like a gentle introduction to a new world of peculiar experiences.

The novel's protagonist, Jacob Portman, is a believable loner who doesn't feel connected to his teenage existence. Jacob's emotional angst isn't foreign to the teenage experience, but Riggs navigates this disconnection between Jacob and his assumed path in life so that the emergence of the peculiar feels like it was lurking there all along.

After propelled into motion by the horrific death of his grandfather, Jacob goes to Whales in an effort to understand his deeply rooted emotional and psychological connection with his grandfather. The inciting incident is well crafted and the trip to Whales feels like a natural choice in trying to introduce Jacob to his grandfather's origins. Jacob's grandfather, Abraham, was sent to an orphanage on the Welsh island from Poland during World War II.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

"The Knick": Uncomfortably Unique

Photo:  Mary Cybulski/HBO/Rolling Stone
A free trial of Cinemax allowed me the unexpected pleasure of watching the premiere of the Steven Soderbergh period piece and medical drama, The Knick. The show takes place in New York City circa 1900. The choice of time period creates a raw and moody atmosphere in which the examination of the foundation of the health system provides viewers with not only a tense viewing experience but also an insight into how our current medical complex came to be.

The pilot is perhaps a bit overloaded with turn of the 20th century references which feels a bit like an Upton Sinclair and Jacob Riis mash-up at moments. However, all of the right production elements come into play to make this pilot episode, Method and Madness, a captivating hour of television.