Friday, July 31, 2015

“Ghettoside” by Jill Leovy – Swept Under the Rug

Ghettoside by Jill Leovy - book cover
The South Central Los Angeles neighborhood has been depicted thoroughly in movies as well as literature... and yet, an overwhelming majority of us will never see the place with our own eyes or dive deep enough ourselves to gain an understanding of what's really happening there and why. Thankfully, there are brave journalists who do these things for us, and Jill Leovy is one of them. Her many years spent observing South Central have led her to make some interesting conclusions and realize truths that she puts to the fore in her book Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

“An Ember in the Ashes” by Sabaa Tahir – Dethroning Tyranny

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (Book cover)
Family and freedom: if there were ever more righteous causes to raise arms and fight against some enemy, we certainly haven't heard of them. The desire to protect those we love and having the freedom to choose as we desire are very important motivators, ones that worked when it came time for citizens to rebel against their tyrants and to fearlessly charge against fate and its overwhelming odds. This is what we've been fighting for in both reality and fiction, as is precisely the case in Sabaa Tahir's first novel, An Ember in the Ashes.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

“No Safe House” by Linwood Barclay – Unseen Horrors of Suburbia

No Safe House by Linwood Barclay - book cover
The green lawns, the white picket fences, calm and quiet afternoons... what is there not to feel safe about when living in the American suburbs, where decent, hard-working folk have found peace for generations? After the horrors he and his family faced in the events of No Time for Goodbye, Terry Archer decided to go live in the quaint and safe haven of suburbia, albeit without his wife who decided to go on a self-imposed exile upon seeing that her demons have led her to harming Grace, their daughter.

Monday, July 27, 2015

“On the Move: A Life” by Oliver Sacks – The Master of All Trades

On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks-book cover
We grow up in this world and try to focus our efforts on some specific domain, hopefully mastering it as time comes along. There are some anomalies out there, outliers who seem to have been born with exceptional talents, with the potential to become masters at whatever they touch... and Oliver Sacks is one of those. As a man who managed to give equal focus to his physical and cerebral passions, Sacks became known for both his daring lifestyle and contributions to modern medicine. Recently diagnosed with terminal-stage cancer, Sacks has decided to give yet another source of insight into his life through his autobiography On the Move: A Life.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

“Barbarian Days” by William Finnegan – Around the World on a Surfing Board

For the casual observer from the outside, surfing seems like a cool and somewhat simple sport, one that doesn't evolve into anything more than a hobby. However, for people like William Finnegan, surfing represents a whole lot more than that: it is a way of life, one that can take a person around the entire world and can also be seen as a an international community with a high sense of camaraderie.

In his autobiography Barbarian Days, the international journalist William Finnegan discusses his surfing life from his earlier days in Honolulu to the globetrotting journey he embarked which ended up turning him into an anthropologist more than anything else. In these writings we get glimpses into what surfing meant for William and his friends at the time, what it means to become part of the surfing community, and all the details and intricacies associate with it that we couldn't see or think of from the outside.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 77

Greetings to you all, and welcome to the 77th issue of Gliding Over the World of Literature, where we proudly continue to excavate what juicy news the realm of writers has in store for us. Today, we shall begin on a more somber tone and pay respects to a legendary author who passed recently, E.L. Doctorow. Following that we'll have a look at Harper Lee's second novel, written a long time ago but published recently, where we revisit Atticus Finch and see his true colors. Finally, we shall end on a more a inspiring note and see how adulthood can reinvigorate Chekhov's stories for those who butted heads with his narratives at a younger age.

Monday, July 20, 2015

“Run You Down” by Julia Dahl – The Ways of the Hasidim

Run You Down by Julia Dahl - book cover
When we are talking about ways of living, there is a certain general current, for lack of a better word, to which the majority of the people end up conforming, and not without reason. Technologically-speaking we have made huge strides over the past decades and there is no question that in a large number of countries these advancements have improved the quality of life... as well as shaped people's morals and values. There are however smaller communities in existence here and there which adhere to their own traditional way of living, and the Hasidim are one of them. As is usually the case, such societies are secretive in their nature we know little about them... which is precisely why it makes for a very interesting setting in Julia Dahl's Run You Down.

Friday, July 17, 2015

“Code of Conduct” by Brad Thor – Peacekeeping through Violence

Code of Conduct by Brad Thor (book cover)
Whereas a few decades ago countries were mostly left to solve their own struggles internally, we have somewhere along the line stepped over into the age of inter-connectedness, one where a people's struggles can be shared with the entire world. The many wars endured in the 20th century have led to the formation of international committees and organizations designed to keep the peace and intervene in chaotic situations where a country's internal resources may not be enough to restore order to chaos. Such is the fate of numerous countries where people place their hopes on UN peacekeeping troops, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Brad Thor begins his story in Code of Conduct.

To give a brief overview of what it's all about, Code of Conduct sees Scot Harvarth, counter-terrorist extraordinaire, being sent halfway across the world into Congo to acquire information on a UN-sanctioned clinic after a disturbing four-second video is anonymously sent to Washington DC. From there on out the thriller unfolds as Harvath dives deeper and deeper into a web of espionage, deceit and violence, one that will eventually lead him to some of the evilest men on Earth, part of a secret elite society of untouchables by virtue of their wealth and power.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

“Go Set a Watchman” by Harper Lee – Atticus' Fall

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee - book cover
Atticus Finch is known to most people as being a paragon of virtue and justice, someone who goes against the grain with his progressive attitude and way of thinking, piercing through the veils of racism and discrimination in a time when they were in place rather tightly. Harper Lee certainly made a solid statement through him about our morality and in which way we ought to move, which is why many were rather appalled at the premise of the sequel she published to her only novel, titled Go Set a Watchman: a somewhat different portrayal of Finch.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

“The Billion Dollar Spy” by David E. Hoffman – The Singular Traitor

The Billion Dollar Spy by David E. Hoffman - book cover
The Cold War was certainly a time in human history where unconventional warfare became the norm, where battles between the world's two greatest superpowers were no longer fought openly on battlefields but rather behind the secrecy of closed doors. Intelligence, knowledge and information became the most important and crucial of commodities (without forgetting money, of course), and the warriors of that conflict, for the most part, spent their time in offices.

Friday, July 10, 2015

“The Meursault Investigation” by Kamel Daoud – The Silent Victims

The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud - book cover
Albert Camus' The Stranger is one of the few novels out there that managed to achieve an international level of renown, the kind that makes it a worthy subject of study in countless universities and literary circles. As a matter of fact, it achieved such tremendous fame for the depth of its criticisms and portrayals of society that an author by the name of Kamel Daoud decided to write something that could be best-classified as a spin-off, titled The Meursault Investigation.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

“Those Who Wish Me Dead” by Michael Koryta – Witless Protection Program

Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta - book cover
The Witness Protection Program, as is often depicted in popular culture, is powerless against the far-reaching hands of the mafia and really serves as a temporary shelter or a set-up to showcase someone's murdering skills. Now, I'm certain that in real life it is a tad more effective than what we are led to believe, but for the purposes of literary fiction, let us pretend it's not the case... otherwise, we wouldn't get interesting thrillers like Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

“The Festival of Insignificance” by Milan Kundera – Exploring Emptiness

The Festival of Insignificance by Milan Kundera - book cover
The more you go back towards the beginning of his career, the more you'll notice that Milan Kundera's novels had more and more of a concrete purpose and structure to them. However, as you go further down the line towards the modern days, it seems his works have gone more and more into the vague territory of philosophies and out-of-the-box meditations on the many questions that have plagued him throughout life.

Friday, July 03, 2015

“Let Me Die in His Footsteps” by Lori Roy – Family Secrets

Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy (book cover)
Some families trace back generations upon generations, being downright ancient and comprising more people than many of us will end up meeting in a lifetime. The bigger and more complex a family tree grows, the more there is room for deviations and darker secrets, for outliers to pop up out of nowhere. Some families have the misfortune of having a black sheep, and in some cases, by virtue of their evil character, they can bring ruin to all those around them.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

“In the Country” by Mia Alvar – Into Worlds Unknown

In the Country by Mia Alvar (book cover)
A large number of us have the benefit of having a home we've lived in for years upon years... and I'm not referring to a house. I'm specifically referring to the concept of a homeland, of feeling at home in a country, a city, a neighbourhood. For instance, many people living in the United States have been in the country for generations upon generations and don't intend on leaving anytime soon... after all, why would they if life goes well? On the other hand, there are many other parts of the world where staying in one's homeland simply becomes impossible, whether it is due to economical, social, criminal or military situations. So many uprooted their lives to start anew elsewhere, some never finding that new, coveted home... such can be the immigrant experience at times.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Gliding Over the World of Literature – Issue 76

Good day to you all, and welcome back for the 76th issue of Gliding Over the World of Literature, one that we've chosen to dedicate to literary news from The New York Times, perhaps one of the longest-standing and most trusted literary outlets in the world.

To begin with, we're going to look over a thoughtful piece discussing Faulkner's works as social commentaries and remaining testaments to a time that may one day be tragically forgotten.

Following that we'll move on to lighter things with an upcoming auction at Christie's where six personal letters from Harper Lee are to be up for bids.

Finally, we'll turn our eyes towards a brighter future by checking out an upcoming project at Columbia University relating to Russian literature.