“Ocean’s dying, plankton’s dying…it’s people. Soylent green is made out of people!”
If you’ve watched 1973 Charlton Heston classic film Soylent Green, the reveal in Anthony Burgess’ The Wanting Seed won’t be a surprise, but I guarantee the book is shocking in many other ways. You wouldn’t expect anything less from the author who penned A Clockwork Orange.
Imagine a world where homosexuality was the preferred sexual orientation by the state as a measure against overpopulation. Imagine politicians dandified in the hopes a gay image might help advance their career. History moves in cycles of morality wherein the state vacillates between believing people to either be saints or animals.
But one thing that can’t be suppressed is life itself. Whether good, evil, homo or heterosexual, eating from cans or being cannibals, people live on. The Wanting Seed proves we are merely seeds wanting to be scattered.
|Recommended by J. Harbinger||Tuesday, April 21st, 2015||No Comments »|
Every university has a visible divide between the liberal arts students and the STEM majors, which can usually be seen on Fridays where there isn’t a BA candidate to be found. But I think Madame Bovary’s Ovaries: A Darwinian Look at Literature can bridge that divide. Authors David P. Barash and Nanelle R. Barash bring together the worlds of psychology, evolutionary biology, and literature to ask important questions like:
|Recommended by J. Harbinger||Thursday, April 16th, 2015||No Comments »|
The Count of Monte Cristo is on every must-read list, but with so many satisfying movie adaptations it’s hard to commit to such a thick volume. Being paid by the word, Alexander Dumas was not a fan of brevity, however that did not change the fact that The Count of Monte Cristo is a real page turner with plenty of quote worthy lines—”The difference between treason and patriotism is only a matter of dates.” Edmond Dantès has the ultimate story arc with the kind of revenge plot that we’ve all dreamt of when dealing with terrible bosses or erstwhile companions.
Like when most people read the original after being familiar with the adaptation, there’s a novelty in discovering the differences. One is that no 131 minute film can capture how much of a pimp the Count was. At one point in the book he gathers his friends over to a dinner party at his house, points out two exotic fish, and tells them he thought it would be amusing to have two fish that could never meet in nature and bring them together on his table. Another is that while Edmond does eventually learn to overcome his god-complex by the end of the novel, Dumas does not deliver the Hollywood end we’re used to, and it really is better for it.
|Recommended by J. Harbinger||Thursday, March 19th, 2015||No Comments »|
As a playwright I have immense appreciation for many Western classics, ranging from Shakespeare to Tennessee Williams, but I always felt a lack of diversity when it came to the playwrights’ nationalities. That’s why I did some research and found many worthwhile works of theater that came from non-European sources. One of them is Wole Soyinka’s The Lion and the Jewel, a 1959 stage play that, even though written in English, is intrinsically African.
|Recommended by Stefano Llinas||Thursday, February 5th, 2015||No Comments »|
For a lot of kids out there (who are now adults) with little to no knowledge of Japanese animation, the series Dragon Ball was their first experience with the medium (especially in Latin America). The popularity of this particular anime cannot be denied, but its inspiration is never really discussed. An obscure fact among non-die hard Dragon Ball fans is that Journey to the West, an ancient classic of Chinese literature, is the tale that started it all.
Published in the 16th century anonymously, but attributed to Wu Cheng’en, Journey to the West recounts the story of monk Xuanzang and his pilgrimage to India in search of sacred scriptures that will help enlighten the people of China. This task was given to him by none other than Buddha himself. Along the way Xuanzang enlists the help of various animals, namely the Monkey King Sun Wukong, the pig Zhu Bajie, and the sand creature Sha Wujing. Throughout their arduous journey Xuanzang and his entourage encounter many obstacles, but eventually reach their destination, a symbolic moment that represents enlightenment.
|Recommended by Stefano Llinas||Thursday, January 22nd, 2015||1 Comment »|
Most people will picture a giant, grotesque insect laying in bed when talking about Franz Kafka’s literary contributions since his most popular story is The Metamorphosis, but the famed Czech writer had other manuscripts published that contribute to his everlasting literary influence. One of these is his novel The Trial, an overlooked gem of magnificent proportions and existential questions.
Published in 1925, one year after the author’s death, The Trial tells the story of Josef K., a banker who is inexplicably charged with a crime (which is never revealed either to him or the reader), and the subsequent actions taken by him to avoid this mysteriously anointed fate. Filled with the pragmatic quandaries of a soul in disarray, Kafka’s novel has become the epitome of what humans fear the most: the uncanny.
|Recommended by Stefano Llinas||Thursday, January 8th, 2015||No Comments »|