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The Independent

Visiting Writers Series: “Jesus Land” Author Visits

Visiting Writers Series: “Jesus Land” Author Visits

October 21, 2014

“I tried to become a woman that night in a way that was reckless beyond my comprehension,” reminisced writer Julia Scheeres in her recent essay, “T...

Review: ‘Seconds: A Graphic Novel’

Review: ‘Seconds: A Graphic Novel’

October 7, 2014

It’s official; the mid-twenties quest for direction is the new teen angst. Or if you’ve read Bryan Lee O' Malley's last couple of works you...

Brad Watson Kicks-Off the Visiting Writer’s Series

Brad Watson Kicks-Off the Visiting Writer’s Series

September 23, 2014

Since 2012, NEIU has been the host to The Visiting Writers Series which brings published authors and members of the campus community together to discuss c...

Review: “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed”

September 23, 2014

“When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed” is the new novel by English professor Bradley Greenburg....

Images Worth a Thousand Words

Images Worth a Thousand Words

March 26, 2013

  4 of out 5 Stars Sara Lee, Eli’s Cheesecake, and Crate and Barrel all began their careers in Chicago. But that’s not all they have in common. These prominent companies were...

The Song of Songs Sung at NEIU

The Song of Songs Sung at NEIU

March 26, 2013

  Visiting performance artist Rachel Berkman graced Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) wi...

Is it Her Fault? Counselor Fired For Controversial Book

Lina David, Staff Writer

October 17, 2012

Filed under Book Reviews

  Bryan Craig, a 33-year-old guidance counselor and girls’ basketball coach at the south suburban Rich Central High School, was put on administrative leave after the publication of his book, It’s Her Fault. The book is of the self-help genre and is intended to help women achieve the upper hand in their relationships with men. Craig, who has mentored more than 200 teenage girls at the high school, stated that he was tired of hearing women complain about men and wanted to provide a “roadmap” to men and relationships. The book encourages women to be submissive, states that strippers are empowered through their dominance of men, and goes into graphic detail on the sexual organs of different races of women. Commenting on the decision to fire Craig, board president of The Rich Township High School District 227, Betty Owens stated, “Craig’s conduct in this matter fell far short of our expectations and evoked outrage for me, members of this board and many others in our district who have come to expect the highest level of professionalism and sound judgment from the people they entrust with their children each day.” Owens also stated that, after the publication of the book, parents from the district called to complain about Craig. Furthermore, the school board stated that Craig’s book, “showed a lack of good judgment and professionalism.” In rebuttal, Craig has filed a $1 million federal lawsuit against the school district, Owens, and the superintendent, Donna Leak, for wrongful termination, claiming that his free speech rights were violated. Craig’s attorney, Stephen L. Richards made the following comments, “He has not committed a dischargeable offense. We don't believe he's violated the school rules. His publication of the book was an exercise of his First Amendment rights.” In the interest of letting the book speak for itself, “In some cases, strippers and dancers show the overall dominance a woman can have over a man," Craig’s book states. "Not to say that stripping is what has to be done to truly establish dominance, but these women's mind set is in the right place in order to meet the true potential of the point of this book." Craig also encourages women to be submissive in their relationships with men, “Let's enter the wonderful world of submissiveness. Yeah I know ladies, you all hate that s---. However, it must be in place in order for us to feel some type of power...he's your man, go ahead and let him turn you every which way, let him touch your hair if he asks, real or not. Give him oral sex without making the ‘ugh’ face. You submitting to your man can do a world of good. He won't need to find a dip, he won't feel the need to resent you, and he won't feel the need to tell his friends your business.” It’s Her Faultwas self-published and can be purchased on the Amazonwebsite....

It’s a Small Town After All!

Sean Dotson, Staff Writer

September 6, 2012

Filed under Book Reviews

Interview: Dr. Ryan Poll, Author of Main Street and Empire: The Fictional Small Town in the Age of

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Review: Blue Like Jazz- An Odd Tale of Self Discovery

Syed Ahad Hussain and Desiree Dylong

April 28, 2012

Filed under Book Reviews, Movie Reviews

    Blue Like Jazzis a 2012 adaptation of the celebrated Christian author Donald Miller’s semi-autobiographical book of the same name, directed by Steve Taylor, Miller co-wrote the screenplay with Ben Pearson and Taylor. Both the novel and film Blue Like Jazz follow author Donald Miller as he struggles with his growing and sometimes turbulent faith in God. Although the novel is less plot-driven than the film, both work to show how Donald’s resolution towards his Christian faith is not only due to his own self-reflection, but also due to the stories and experiences of those around him. Both works help to portray how seeing the passion and experience of others can impact the way we see ourselves. The film is reminiscent of the Coen Brother’s 2008 dark comedy A Serious Man in many ways. Just like Larry Gopnik, A Serious Man’s protagonist, Don (played by Marshall Allman, based on Miller) questions God’s existence, religion’s implications, limitations and reflections on his miserable life. After being unable to find eternal solace and peace in his life, Don leaves his hometown when his promiscuous, separated parents refused to accept his religious beliefs, and he ends up in Reed College, a liberal arts college in Portland, Oregon. According to some of Donald’s fellow Christians, Reed is known as a godless and heathen school. In the novel, Donald has no shame in telling fellow students about his Christianity. The film takes a different approach and showcases Donald hiding his faith out of fear of being judged by his fellow classmates. Don soon finds his place though when he develops a crush on a classmate named Penny (played by Claire Holt), a rebellious, free-spirited and sympathetic girl who hated the corporate culture and their apparent corruption. The college’s current ‘Pope’ (played by a humorous Justin Welborn) also acts as Don’s guardian angel. The Pope’s own ambiguity towards religion, overshadowed by his molestation by a priest as a child, makes Don even more stubborn and assertive in assisting the Pope with his random mockeries of the local church The on-off relationship of Don and Penny comes to a serious halt when she finds out about his mother’s pregnancy by the church’s married bishop, a sad truth that left Don bitter and at odds with God. Blue Like Jazz is a courageous, honest, comic, yet tragic account of a young man with religious upbringings discovering himself and his relationship to God. The theme of both loving and resenting something bigger than yourself is part of what makes the book and film relatable to a larger demographic other than those of the Christian faith. The emotions that come with being passionate about a way of life is something anyone can relate to.  ...

The Visible Man: Chuck Klosterman’s Unseen Anti-Hero

Patrick McIntyre, Staff Writer

April 27, 2012

Filed under Book Reviews

  Listening to music for a career has provided Chuck Klosterman with a sense of reality interwoven with pop culture. After so many years critiquing various mediums—music, film, the effects of Saved by the Bell reruns on society—a prominent question arises from his fiction: What is reality? In his second novel, The Visible Man, Klosterman offers an intriguing image of how people really are, and whether or not that self is the true self. Written in a memoir format from the viewpoint of a young therapist, Victoria Vick, the book surveys her yearlong struggle with a patient. For privacy reasons, she only refers to this patient in the text as Y___. Vick is new in her field, lacks a PhD, and is often times overly gullible, so when Y___ claims to own a government-made suit that renders him invisible, she’s unable to fully grasp the situation. Regardless, she commits to professionalism and listens to the stories Y___ has to tell about his invisible endeavors, most of which involve voyeuristic escapades in the pursuit of a truer sense of how people are when they are alone. This is all Y___ really wants from Vick, an ear to listen to his stories; he is in no desire of counseling, and doesn’t believe he needs it. Y___ spins his crude yet wildly interesting tales of the various people he has followed, and contrasts how his subjects acted alone to how they acted around other people. An unsuspecting girl’s eating disorder is examined in relation to her obsession with a weed/food/exercise trifecta; an uncomplicated young musician along with his heavy-set heavy-metal friends yields philosophical discussions of a crumbling world. Vick is increasingly drawn in as Y___ recalls each unseen expedition. Klosterman establishes a perfect medium for his pop culture analysis. His characters have simplistic lives in the dark, and this exposes the relation of how music and films have influenced those darkened areas, but also the public self. The public’s perception of the Beatles is directly attributed to the fact that everybody likes them, so because of this they must be good. The context of this questioning is based on how people act and conform in public, and how their ‘real’ selves act in solitude. Do fans of the Beatles like them more when in public, or when they are alone? This quandary of the true-self becomes increasingly more interesting to Vick, whose own life is soon affected by the questionable morals of her patient. She is attracted, yet repelled by him. Vick wavers between awe and staunch fear as Y___’s ‘reality’ inches closer to her life. The Visible Man offers a deeper view into pop culture and its effects, a chief pursuit of Klosterman’s commendable career. What is ‘real’ if ‘real’ is impossible to define? The presentation of one’s self in a world of covers is inevitably a fabrication. And if that is true, then all we have left are the covers....

“Down and Out in Paris and London” Book Review

Patrick McIntyre, Staff Writer

April 17, 2012

Filed under Book Reviews

  Orwell always had a knack for examining the current, and maybe more importantly, the forthcoming status quo. As the author of indispensable works like 1984 and Animal Farm, Orwell became a household name during the mid 20th century, and ‘Orwellian’ became a common term utilized to describe any insidiously dystopian piece of work. Because of the importance of those two literary accomplishments, an earlier work by Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London, has flown under the radar since its 1933 publishing. This indelible memoir has increased in significance through time and its societal commentary is crucial in the Orwellian dynamic. The “plongeur,” workers toiling away at despicable jobs, working themselves to hunger and death, is one of the key focuses of Down and Out. Amongst them, a British writer in his 20’s provides a heartfelt narration and attempts to carve out a living between two European capitals. Unable to find steady respectable work, he is forced to subscribe to the booming service culture of hotels and restaurants. Serving the rich, washing dishes, preparing meals, and running errands for 12 hours a day while barely earning a living are all part of the ‘plongeur’s’ life. The ratty hotel rooms he attempts to board in inevitably chase him out when money is scarce. Finding a roof to cover his head for the night is the writer’s chief goal with his dismal earnings, with food coming up a distant second. His fellow poverty stricken ‘plongeurs’ run rampant through the streets, working hard when work is available, and starving when it isn’t. Autobiographical qualities echo loudly throughout the story. Although not a photocopy of Orwell’s struggling youth, enough of his real experiences align themselves with those of the writer in the story. These tales of struggles and inevitable defeat clearly shaped Orwell’s later works. The coercion of the masses, a favorite topic of Orwell, is movingly presented. Not from the view of the thinker, but through the narrative of just one insignificant example of those masses. Down and Out has increased in relevance over the last half-century, and this adds to its commentary about the plight of the downtrodden factions of society. Orwell presents the life of those working menial jobs—work that refuses to provide sufficient income, all of which has become more prominent in our country—and begs the readers to evaluate the structure of a society that produces these ‘plongeurs.’ “The mob are such low animals that they would be dangerous if they had leisure; it is safer to keep them too busy to think.” He writes these words as the worker, the one in the trenches suffering the wounds. If 1984 and Animal Farm were dystopian pieces of art, commenting omnisciently on society and its inevitable desecration of the working poor, then Down and Out is the story of those working poor- real accounts of those relegated to the bottom and strapped down without a hope of escape.        ...

Gold Boy, Emerald Girl

Emily Haddad, Managing Editor

April 17, 2012

Filed under Book Reviews

  Author Yiyun Li presents a new collection of stories highlighting different aspects of that species-unique phrase, the human condition. Raised during China’s Communist movement, Li brings a fresh perspective on people who lived through an era often bereft of the subtleties of the human experience because of the Communist national movement to unite through abject conformity. In the first story, a novella-length tale spanning 5 decades, Li brings to life the acerbic character of a woman untouched by emotions, who reminisces about being part of a Maoist women’s army regiment. The scientific detachment with which this woman inspects her own memories of repeated attempts by two women, her superiors, to reach out to her throughout her lifetime is chilling yet enthralling. The next few stories are shorter, offering snapshots of life that link together to create the chain of a lifetime. An art teacher, unable to articulate the stark, haunting beauty of a student, falls under suspicion of misdeeds from his artistic fascination and retires rather than attempt to explain the depths of his soul. The teacher falls under the spell of internet-drama and reaches out in real life to the victim of an internet-smear campaign, using old world methods and chivalry. A Chinese couple immigrated to the United States, only to be drawn back to the same painfully backward village and ideals they left to escape, in search of a child. Three girls swear loyalty to a sisterhood where they share everything— even blame for misfortunes. A woman runs a shelter for women whose spouses have been imprisoned, secretly trying to prove she is the best and most loyal woman of them all. The stories often traipses through reflections on pivotal moments from the past; ancient memories recall the keystone ghosts of the characters’ development and part the curtains to the private inner sanctums of each character’s thoughts. Li’s characters are often awash in intriguing period-propaganda and the sharp expectations of a society that deigns not to understand them and punishes them for any overlap of their cookie-cutter’s design. There are frequent and distinct clashes between Communist-era mentalities and more modern mindsets. This collection of short stories emphasizes how emotions and situations are perceived differently in supposedly modernized China. If period pieces rich in daily-life-details and cultural contrasts interest you, or if you’re a history buff of early 20th century Maoist China, Gold Boy, Emerald Girl will satisfy your literary desires. This book is readily available in e-book and print format at your local Chicago Public Library....