Tag Archives: Novel

Taking Peace for Granted

By Michael Lederer

Pho­to Cred­it: Michael Led­er­er | Pho­to of Genia Chef’s “The Great Game,” oil on can­vas, 2013 (frag­ment)

It’s so easy to take peace for grant­ed, when we have it.

In my 2012 book, The Great Game: Berlin-War­saw Express and Oth­er Sto­ries, the char­ac­ter Cal, an Amer­i­can writer liv­ing in Berlin, com­mits the sin of lament­ing peace as dull. Board­ing the train for War­saw at Zoo sta­tion, look­ing out his win­dow as the Reich­stag and Bran­den­burg Gate slip by, he reflects on how “con­crete, barbed wire and gun tur­rets had been replaced by a cur­ry­wurst stand, shoe stores, and oth­er unre­mark­able trap­pings of the every­day. Every­thing looked so nor­mal, as if peo­ple had nev­er argued let alone fought here. The grave­yard of com­mu­nism and fas­cism looked beau­ti­ful with its flow­ers and its riv­er in the sunshine.”

But Cal – named for his safe, priv­i­leged, native Cal­i­for­nia – was frus­trat­ed. “The banal­i­ty of today’s pros­per­i­ty be damned,” he thought. “‘Orson Welles was right about the cuck­oo clocks.’ On this day, Cal was not inter­est­ed in sun­shine, flow­ers and rivers. He want­ed shad­ows, smoke and bas­tards. He want­ed danger.”

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Cancel Field Trips, Cancel Forest Rangers: The Every by Dave Eggers (2021)

By Sebastian Tants-Boestad

Dave Eggers’s best­selling tech dystopia, The Cir­cle (2013), has final­ly received a sequel. While The Cir­cle described the rise of a fic­ti­tious tech and social media com­pa­ny and its protagonist’s steady descent into the mael­strom of sur­veil­lance cul­ture, The Every now picks up a cou­ple of years lat­er, after the Cir­cle has acquired a big online retail­er “named after a South Amer­i­can jun­gle.” The result­ing mega cor­po­ra­tion, called the Every, is pret­ty much the monop­o­list in all things dig­i­tal tech – from apps to online shop­ping to cut­ting edge hard­ware. Of course, it’s every bit as scary and unlike­able as one would imag­ine it to be. 

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More than Just a Novel: Nic Stone’s Dear Martin

By Sabrina Völz

It’s been near­ly 52 years since Dr. Mar­tin Luther King, Jr. was assas­si­nat­ed on April 4, 1968. With­out a doubt, he con­tin­ues to inspire new gen­er­a­tions and serve as a role mod­el for non-vio­lent protest and change. In hon­or of Black His­to­ry Month in Feb­ru­ary, I’d like to review a young adult nov­el that brings the con­ver­sa­tion on racism and grow­ing up Black in the Unit­ed States to a new lev­el. It inves­ti­gates whether King’s teach­ings are still rel­e­vant today and whether they can help Jys­tice, a 17-year-old, promis­ing high school stu­dent. His life is turned upside down when he tries to help his intox­i­cat­ed ex-girl­friend get home safe­ly one night. In a con­fronta­tion with two police offi­cers, Jys­tice ends up on the ground in hand­cuffs – an all-too-famil­iar sight. The prob­lem: She’s White and he’s Black. As a result of the assault, Jys­tice will nev­er be the per­son he once was.

Nic Stone’s debut nov­el, Dear Mar­tin (2017), inter­weaves the top­ics of racial pro­fil­ing, police bru­tal­i­ty, black­face, col­or­blind racism, micro-aggres­sions, and act­ing ‘White’ with ques­tions of iden­ti­ty, friend­ship, and inter­ra­cial rela­tion­ships. With that list, you might just ask your­self how the author still man­ages to tell a good sto­ry with­out get­ting too dis­tract­ed and preachy. Well, she does. But before explor­ing the top­ic fur­ther, I’ll let Nic Stone intro­duce the book in her own words.

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