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Eli Hoelscher

TV Killed the Literary Star

The sophomore season of Donald Glover’s cult-favorite TV show Atlanta kicked off yesterday, continuing the story of Earnest “Earn” Marks and his struggle to make money (and sense) in an often absurd world. It’s likely one of Glover’s lesser-known works among his renaissance-man slate of music and acting—such as playing Lando Calrissian in an upcoming Star Wars spin off.

Though the comedy doesn’t have the clout of a celebrated galactic saga, it’s nonetheless a complex and enjoyable piece of storytelling. Television has earned increasing recognition as a true art medium—going beyond its reputation as just entertainment—and Glover’s layered vision of modern city life convincingly furthers this trend.

With the new season underway, I’ve found some analogs in the fiction stacks that backlight a few of Atlanta‘s somewhat familiar literary underpinnings. Read More..

Fact and Fiction Collide in The Only Harmless Great Thing

The stranger-than-fiction story of the women who painted radium dials during the first World War got a proper exploration earlier this year in the nonfiction hit The Radium Girls.

In January, the topic gets its due in the realm of fiction with Brooke Bolander’s The Only Harmless Great Thing, with an intriguing twist. As if the story of the radium factories were not already peculiar—and tragic—enough, Bolander reimagines sentient elephants working alongside the women of history. Read More..

Scary and Smart: The Hole is Horror and More

I don’t typically read books out of the horror section; but then again, categorizing the sprawling bundle of thoughts that comprise a novel into just one of a handful of neat genres is not an easy task.

Of course, my latest impulse read—Hye-Young Pyun’s The Hole— is a far cry from typical.

The recently-translated novel binds the reader to the perspective of a man trying to recover from a devastating car wreck. He’s lost not only his wife, but also his ability to move and speak. It caught my eye thanks to an intriguing cover design that sticks out like a sore thumb next to the  the horror shelves’ status quo of darker, bloodier fronts.

As different as it may be, make no mistake— The Hole fully deserves its place next to these macabre tales. Read More..

Peanuts, A Great American Novel After All

The DNA of four-panel funnies, well-respected graphic novels, and highfalutin literary novels might not be so different as they seem. Obviously, a strip like Family Circus isn’t even remotely in the same realm as, say, Toni Morrison, to be clear, but each tradition shares some surprising hallmarks when it comes to form and philosophy. Read More..

Is a Book a Sandwich? Super Extra Grande Edition

Just over 100 miles separate The United States and Cuba. Yet, as history would have it, the two nations have carried on a messy and surprisingly limited relationship. Setting aside the geopolitics of the real world—for now—leaves us with a sadly restrained amount of cultural cross pollination. Stateside, Cuba’s strongest association is almost assuredly cigars, followed by pressed ham, pork, and Swiss cheese sandwiches, and in a distant third, there’s Ricky Ricardo, I’m guessing.

For as familiar and adoring as I am of Cuban sandwiches (let me emphasize: extremely), I had never read—or even knew of—any Cuban authors before this summer, which speaks to the unfortunate priorities of our cultural knowledge of our island neighbor. Great art can not be kept back for long, though, and a shiny new copy of Super Extra Grande fell into my hands one day as if it were fate. Read More..

Local Author Reimagines a Classic with New Novel

While taking literature classes through high school, many of us had to read canon staples from the likes of Dickens and Steinbeck, despite how jarring it can seem to approach something like Great Expectations when you’re fourteen years old. Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights— a title which my friends keep telling me to pronounce differently, for some reason— is one such classic. Read More..

Branding is Everything, Even in the Westerns

No, we’re not actually talking about cattle today, unfortunately—or marketing, for that matter. In the library context, a brand is a personal mark a reader puts on the inside cover of a book. Normally I wouldn’t advocate defacing the collection in this way, but there’s a pretty good reason for the practice. Read More..

Don’t Drive Your Jet Ski in the Dark: The Wisdom of DJ Khaled

If you listen to much Top 40 radio, you’re already familiar with DJ Khaled; even if you can’t quite connect his name to a particular song or face, there’s likely some liminal awareness. Just close your eyes and think of the times a moment of transition static has been torn through with the bombastic roar of “DEE JAY KHA-LED” just as a beat starts playing. Read More..

The Means of Escape: Two Books in Conversation

People react in a variety of ways when faced with hardship. Some people eat an entire box of ice cream by themselves or blow off steam at the rec center, and these are perfectly reasonable choices. These people, however, do not get books written about them.

Two recently-released titlesGoatmanand Welcome to Marwencolpresent two incredible stories about the boundaries of creativity and escapism. Each book offers a look into a world where the desire to get away from it all is extrapolated with macro-sized reactions. Read More..

Books on our Radar for 2017

A new year means new books! Last year, we compiled a list of highly-anticipated titles in both fiction and non-fiction for adults. These were the hyped super-faves for the 2016 publishing world, and they were a lot of fun to write about. This year, however, we’ve decided to switch gears and focus on some upcoming titles that may be lesser-known, or by debut authors.

Put these books on your radar, and check back in with us as you read! Read More..