Book Review: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Book Review: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Arts & Culture, Books
  Cheryl Strayed hiked the Pacific Crest trail--starting in California, going through parts of Oregon, and ending in Washington State--when she was 26 years old. Before she took off on her trek, she’d had a traumatic early life with an abusive father and a loving, hippy mother. She dabbled in drugs and the wrong guys, but married a good guy when she was barely out of high school. Her mother died of cancer when Cheryl was 22, and it shook her to the core. She heartbreakingly reveals how very hard it was for her to lose her mother: “It had cut me short at the very height of my youthful arrogance. It had forced me to instantly grow up and forgive her every motherly fault at the same time that…
Read More

Book Review: Land of the Blind by Jess Walter

Arts & Culture, Books
Review By: Laurie Fundukian Those who read my reviews know that I tend to become enamored with a writer, but perhaps don’t discover them upon their debut, as I’ve done with Gillian Flynn, and now with Jess Walter, whose popular Beautiful Ruins was reviewed here last year. So I tend to go backward into their bodies of work. Walter was a journalist, and his earlier work falls into the thriller and suspenseful crime genre. Needing some titles to download to my Kindle for a big trip this summer, I turned to one of his earlier novels, Land of the Blind. And I was not disappointed. The book starts in Spokane, Washington with Caroline Mabry, who is a detective working her turn on the night shift—a schedule given to detectives who…
Read More

You’ve Got to Have Art…Education

Arts & Culture
All summer I ran into people I had not seen in a while. The majority of them wanted to know what I was up to these days. When I would share with them that I have been accepted into a Master of Arts program in teaching this spring, I would receive enthusiastic positive responses. Then the question of what I was planning to teach would inevitably come up.  When I would reply “visual arts education,” the responses ranged from blank stares to slack-jawed stares to stares of disbelief, usually punctuated by a sigh of “oh.” And it would be at this point that I would feel the need to defend my choice. I continue to find it fascinating that people would find it odd for me—a person with a B.F.A.…
Read More

Book Review: The Light in the Ruins

Arts & Culture, Books
Many readers may be familiar with Chris Bohjalian’s novel Midwives, which was a popular “Oprah pick” back when she had the power to move millions of books off the shelves. Bohjalian’s powerful novel The Sandcastle Girls, about the Armenian Genocide, was reviewed in Thrive a year or so ago. So yes, Bohjalian is a favorite, and he holds that place deservingly. I was in the midst of The Light in the Ruins when news outlets were running commemorative stories to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day, and the book certainly enhanced my understanding of that time, since it is set during the war years, and in the post-war 1950s in Italy. The book gave me a glimpse into what families went through, from a different prospective. I’ve been to Normandy…
Read More

Intriguing Summer Reads

Arts & Culture, Books
[caption id="attachment_2196" align="alignnone" width="600"] A Summer Trio[/caption] Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s third novel, published in 2012, became a sensation, and will make its feature film debut in October, starring Ben Affleck and Rosemond Pike as the married couple in this addictive thriller. When I was thinking of some good reads to take on vacation a couple of months ago, I decided to check out her first two novels, because I was not on her bandwagon until her third novel—a bit behind legions of loyal fans. Now I can’t wait for her next effort. The author has been quoted as describing her work in this way: “You might say I specialize in difficult characters. Damaged, disturbed, or downright nasty. Personally, I love each and every one of the misfits, losers, and…
Read More
Secret Weapon, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Motherhood: Steffanie Christ’ian Is Way Too Much!

Secret Weapon, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Motherhood: Steffanie Christ’ian Is Way Too Much!

Arts & Culture, Life & Community
[caption id="attachment_2147" align="alignnone" width="434"] Mom and Rock Star, Steffanie Christ’ian[/caption] Singer Steffanie Christ’ian is known for her immeasurable energy, enormous passion, power, and phenomenal set of pipes. These are the qualities that have attracted collaborators like Big Proof of D12 and producer Emanuel (Eman) Kiriakou. Her talents are on display when she opens for artists like Taproot and Thousand Foot Krutch, Erykah Badu, and Talib Kweli. Here raw sound and ability to connect with the audience is the reason why she is the secret weapon of jessica Care moore’s Black Women Rock revues. Hands down, Steffanie Christ’ian is WAY TOO MUCH! Recently, I had the honor of engaging her in a brief Q&A: Q: What is your earliest recollection of loving rock music? A: My mother was only 15 when…
Read More