The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

I bought The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao at Boulder Bookstore after Junot Diaz gave a talk there. When I asked him to sign my copy for my nephew. Diaz wrote: To Nollie: May this find your heart ?.

That’s what this book will do: find your heart. Diaz is willing to do whatever it takes to reach the reader. He’ll quote Galactus, evoke Melkor, tell the painful history of his Caribbean country, and admit all the failings of people growing up poor in the United States.

This is the story of a Dominican family that moves New Jersey and the fukú that follows them here. A fukú is a curse, passed down not just from generation to generation but from nation to nation. Diaz explains (in one of the novel’s many footnotes) how a fukú is responsible […]

How is this antiwar?

I found this collection of photos on a fashion blog. They appeared in Vogue Italia a couple of months ago. I’m not usually interested in fashion (or very knowledgeable about that world) but I am curious about the anti-war nature of art.

When I first saw them I would not have thought of them as antiwar, except that the flickr title is Make Love Not War. They are lovely photographs. The photographer, Steven Meisel, has worked with Madonna. I’m pretty sure the MTV programming of my childhood makes me especially susceptible to his style.

But how are these photographs antiwar?

For me the answer to that question came to me with this photograph, which reminds me of M * A * S * H. Here is an […]

Prison Town

In Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud the comic book guru talks about the vast potential of the sequential art ? in story telling. He’s not only talking about superhero comics versus graphic novels. McCloud is talking about comics being used in all varieties of narrative forms.

Prison Town: Paying the Price, a comic published by the real cost of prisons project, makes very effective use of the sequential art ?. The information it contains is so important for a nation who imprisons more people than any other. But that information can be dry and incomprehensible. Prison Town uses the comic form to make the data easily understood and memorable.

Blue Beetle: Antiwar Comic

A couple of years ago I read an essay about the contradictions of antiwar literature. The essay was written by Kenneth Burke in response to a 1930’s publication of an antiwar photography book titled The First World War: A Photographic History. Burke’s essay was titled War, Response, and Contradiction and clarified many of the pitfalls of using shock ? art as antiwar.

The pitfalls of antwar art have many modern examples. Naive artist may in fact be spreading pro-war propaganda disguised as antiwar art.

But John Rodgers, writer of DC Comics’ Blue Beetle manages to invoke the contradictions and pitfalls, while writing in the superhero genre, and come up with a story that sings its antiwar message loud and proud.

The main characters in this issue of […]

interviews with soldiers suffering from PTSD

This week the Australian radio show Street Stories tells the story of soldiers returning from combat with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):

No-one knows why a significant number of service men and women develop post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their experiences of conflict, and others do not. But for these veterans of the Gulf War and East Timor, the impact on their lives has been profound.

The onset of symptoms often means the end of their military career, and their ability to adapt to other employment is limited. Some days, motivation returns — and on others they can barely get out of bed in the morning. They feel isolated and worthless, and it affects every aspect of their lives. Some turn to alcohol to blur the memories, but it doesn’t fix the problem. Relationships are a likely casualty; […]

Books are cool (again)

This weekend my friend Liza introduced me to a new website that is sucking up all my time (but in a good way). is a social networking website for bibliophiles. Yeah, a myspace for those of us who really love books.

I created a profile and for the past few days have been adding books, posting reviews, and chatting in the groups.

This site might replace some of activity. I visit amazon almost everyday, just to check the recommendations they have for me. Very often I find new books that I’m interested in reading.

Goodreads doesn’t have a recommendations feature, but there’s a link to compare my reading lists with other users and look through their other books for ones I might be interested in. […]