David Cardoso

Is the American Century Over? by Joseph S. Nye, Jr.

Is the American Century Over? by Joseph S. Nye, Jr.

In his book Is the American Century Over?, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., a renowned political scientist and professor, attempts to answer that very question to understand why America has been in an economic and political decline. If nothing else, his brief thesis gives both educated citizens and ignorant ones (like me) an intelligent, unbiased evaluation of one of the most powerful nations in recorded history. 

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The Game of 100 Ghosts by Terry Watada

The Game of 100 Ghosts by Terry Watada

            “night

                        crept like

              smoke in a forest fire

 

            at sundown

                                     the evening

                        settled and everyone sat

                        in        

                                    a circle

            around

            a circle of candles.”

So begins Terry Watada’s The Game of 100 Ghosts, a book of poems inspired by a Japanese tradition known as Hyaku Monogatari Kwaidan-kai. As Watada describes in the excerpt above, participants gather in a circle lighting one hundred candles and relate tales of loved ones who have passed on. After each tale, a candle is snuffed out and when the final tale is told, those gathered in the circle await a visitation of a spirit. Watada imagines himself gathered around this circle, relating stories of loved ones, invoking the spirit of the game while staying true to traditional poetic techniques.

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A Stranger in My Own Country by Hans Fallada

A Stranger in My Own Country by Hans Fallada

If Mein Kampf is one dictator’s racist, dogmatic manifesto, then A Stranger in My Own Country is one German citizen’s sardonic rebuttal. Translated by Allan Blunden and edited by Jenny Williams and Sabine Lange, Hans Fallada’s A Stranger in My Own Country is a memoir describing the life of a writer under the Nazi regime. While imprisoned in 1944, Fallada hand wrote the manuscript using abbreviations, writing in between lines, and flipping pages upside down to keep the text as illegible as possible lest it be confiscated.

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The Deep Zoo by Rikki Ducornet

The Deep Zoo by Rikki Ducornet

Words are powerful, potent forces that shape nature and name gods, turning intangible ideas into tangible actions, and Rikki Ducornet wields them with the deft hand of a poet. The Deep Zoo defies one’s expectations of what essays are, bringing a rich, vibrant sound and inspirational tone, which illuminates the role of the artist in the 21st century. Ducornet’s book stirs the boundless energies of the artist; writers, sculptors, and painters alike are challenged to capture their inner muse, whatever it may be, and make something magnificent, beautiful, and memorable.

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McGlue by Ottessa Moshfegh

McGlue by Ottessa Moshfegh

McGlue is a story about a homeless, illiterate, lascivious, drunk, who has little respect for authority, which manages to make the reader feel sympathetic toward the protagonist. Imprisoned aboard a ship en route to Salem, Massachusetts, McGlue is accused of murdering his best friend, Johnson. The trouble is, McGlue can’t remember anything, let alone how his best friend died, or even if he is dead. So begins Otessa Moshfegh’s darkly unique novel of memory, apathy, and murder.

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American Poet: A Novel by Jeff Vande Zande

American Poet: A Novel by Jeff Vande Zande

Jeff Vande Zande’s novel, American Poet: A Novel, reads like a love song (or a sonnet perhaps) to Michigan and the town of Saginaw specifically. Initially however, it feels more like a sorrowful dirge, reflecting on the broken dreams and creative stagnation of Denver Hoptner, a young, budding poet.

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