Telling the Map: a Collection of Short Stories by Christopher Rowe

I am pleased-as-punch to share with you, readers, my review of a collection of short stories written by a former co-worker of mine. A little more than two years ago, I found myself in the employ of one of Lexington’s much beloved local book stores, Joseph Beth Booksellers. During my time there, I was introduced to Christopher Rowe. Christopher is a talented writer (who as it happens, is married to another talented writer, Gwenda Bond) and his collection Telling the Map was released in July of this year. Continue reading “Telling the Map: a Collection of Short Stories by Christopher Rowe”


The Book I Recommend to Everyone and Why

As readers, we all have our go-tos. Our books that for one reason or another pique our interest in a special way, manage to captivate our interests even after we know what is going to happen, and live on in our imaginations long after we’ve finished reading them. Most of us have several. Also, if you are an avid reader you will likely have people frequently approach you (usually while you are reading) and ask for book recommendations. Usually, I immediately ask them what they like to read. They’ll stop and think for a moment, and then most of the time they will say one of two things. They’ll either say “I like to read anything, I’m not really picky,” or they’ll say THRILLERS or MYSTERIES.  (Not always, sometimes they’ll be like “historical fiction” or “romance” or some other such thing. But, by and large non-readers will gravitate to thrillers because they are so compelling and can generally hold the interest of even the most infrequent reader.) If their answer is either of the two responses listed above, I always, without fail, recommend Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. And always, without fail, I’m right on the money. Continue reading “The Book I Recommend to Everyone and Why”

Summer Reading: The Sisters Chase by Sarah Healy

I’m a little (well, a lot) late posting this review, as this was my vacation read this year. I breezed through this book, as one would expect with any good vacation novel. I found the book to be un-put-down-able, and even though I was able to guess the ‘twist’ less than half way through, I still felt it packed a powerful punch and I’m not ashamed to admit that I found myself teary-eyed when it was done. Continue reading “Summer Reading: The Sisters Chase by Sarah Healy”

Theft by Finding: a book review

The wonderful, hilarious, perfect human that is David Sedaris decided to release his diaries in book format. The first half spans the years 1977-2002 and was released on May 30th of this year. It is without a doubt, everything that I could have hoped for. As a long time admirer of Sedaris, I was particularly looking forward to this book, and am glad to say that it did not disappoint. The book is unflinchingly honest, inspiring, and of course, hysterical. But could we ever expect anything else from dear ol’ Dave?While it is not surprising that the book is presented to readers in a witty but honest and true to life style that is Sedaris’ signature, you will perhaps be a little surprised by the early years of the diary. If you’re like me, all of a the authors you admire occupy a neat, tidy space in your mind in which they have always existed as fully-formed, self-actualized, competent geniuses. Sedaris shows us that at least as far as he is concerned, this wasn’t the case. He started out just as clueless as anyone, and didn’t shy away from making his share of mistakes. Sedaris begins writing his extensive diary collection in 1977 as he is hitchhiking across the country with a friend. These early years reveal a heretofore unknown (or to me at least,) portrait of Sedaris. Sedaris is not bashful about presenting his readers with an accurate depiction of what his life was like at that time. He was addicted to drugs, he was unable to hold down an hourly job and resorted instead to odd jobs, he lived in poverty and he did not live well. He lived in low-rent apartments that were falling apart in violent neighborhoods. He spent hours each day observing people in the IHOP (a question that goes unanswered is how? As he was not able to hold steady employment,) and he was a slave to his addiction.  Continue reading “Theft by Finding: a book review”

A Quiet Passion: a Film Review

As a long time admirer of Emily Dickinson, I wanted so badly to enjoy this film. Sadly, I just didn’t. To be honest the film felt stilted, it was like viewing the final project of a student filmmaker, rather than the sophisticated Emily Dickinson biopic I had paid to see.  Continue reading “A Quiet Passion: a Film Review”

Baywatch: Sizzling, Sandy, Summer Fun!

Like it or not, summer is here. And here in the US, summer means more than sweltering days, pretending to be interested in baseball and unfortunate tan lines. Summertime also heralds in the release of a myriad of (typically sub-par) films that we have lovingly dubbed “summer blockbusters.” The summer blockbuster is a well-loved, time-honored tradition, deeply ingrained in America’s collective psyche. To kick off my summer movie-going experience, I decided that there would be no better place to start than with the re-boot of the seminal television classic, Baywatch. And I am pleased to announce that I was not disappointed.

Baywatch has gotten almost no critical acclaim (many summer blockbusters don’t) but the objective of the summer block buster is not to please the artsy-fartsy, new-wave, critical-thinking types, but to appease the masses. To appeal to nearly everyone. To remind us that though we may come from different backgrounds, we all love well-timed explosions and blatantly ogling attractive people on the silver screen. It reminds us that we’re human, and transports us to a world that is far more exiting than our own. Baywatch, like any summer blockbuster worth its’ salt, featured all of these things. Would it even be Baywatch if there weren’t babes and mega-hunks aplenty jogging in flawless slo-mo across the screen, sensuously spraying water droplets as they do so? This adaptation even contained explosions, and obviously the world of Baywatch is imminently more sizzly and sexy than my own. I don’t want to act like I know you dear reader, but it’s probably (certainly) more compelling than yours as well.

Baywatch was surprisingly charming. To begin with, the movie displays a dauntless and expert use of the “f” word throughout the film, seemingly placed for my own personal amusement and to remind me “I’m an adult woman. I’ll watch what I want.” Secondly, the film seems to be completely self-aware. It realizes that it is a remake of a cheesy television show, and unapologetically continues in the vein of a 90’s television dramedy. There are meet-cutes, there’s a misanthropic, too-cool-for-school-bad-boy stud on a motorcycle (Zac Efron,) there’s a sexy she-villain, there is a mystery to be solved, fisticuffs galore and even a lovable misfit nerd. And if after all that you’re still not convinced I should perhaps tell you that Dwayne “the rock” Johnson got jokes. (that ain’t all he got, tee hee.) At one point in the film he refers to Zac Efron as “High School Musical.” He also engages in an epic fight in the bedroom of a toddler, defeats his foe by dumping a diaper-can-thing on his head and pushing him into a pool. Uttering, what can only be described as one of the best sentences ever written in the history of the English-speaking world, “it’s bath time, shit head.”

And lest I ignore the elephant in the room, “but Lee Ann, aren’t you shamelessly advocating a movie that only serves to perpetuate the male gaze?” No, readers. I am not. Because I do not believe that movie does so. Exhibit A, although women do drown and need rescuing in the film, none of them are rescued by the lovable beef cake, The Rock. The film intentionally (admittedly most likely for comedic effect rather than political correctness,) only shows The Rock rescuing other men. That’s right, there is more than one scene featuring a sultry, sodden The Rock emerging from the depths of the Ocean like Poseidon himself, carrying another man in his arms. Secondly, the slo-mo of the film does not favor one gender over the other. Zac Efron’s abs get just as much slo-mo screen time as any pair of breasts. The film’s dialogue also calls to attention the use of slo-mo, poking fun at one of the signature tropes of its’ television counterpart and by extension the male gaze in general. That isn’t to say that the film is not sexy. It is, as it rightly should be, rife with sexual tension. It is after all, Baywatch, a show about people who get paid to spend most of their waking hours on the beach flaunting their assets in expertly sewn swim wear. If you are offended by people wearing swim suits, then this is obviously not the film for you.

To sum up, I would assert that Baywatch is a success. It accomplished just what it set out to do. It wasn’t trying to be ambitious, it wasn’t trying to create a serious re-make of a much beloved t.v. series. It wasn’t trying to make a statement. It was merely seeking to provide summer fun. And it accomplished just that.

Kedi: a Film Review

Istanbul is home to thousands of stray cats that freely roam the city’s streets, making homes in the city’s communities and building relationships with the city’s people. Kedi is a heart-warming documentary that brings to light the complex relationship between Istanbul and her feline friends. The film follows the day-to-day lives of seven of the city’s cats and the people who care for them. It focuses on the immense joy that the cats bring to the lives of their caregivers and the love they bestow upon the cats. Even though the cats are technically “strays,” coming and going as they please, they are still cared for. Continue reading “Kedi: a Film Review”