‘Dirty Work’ is a Sobering Reminder of What Lurks in the Economic Shadows

Commercial butchering, oil drilling, being a guard at a prison—they’re tough jobs but someone’s got to do them. But in the case of Dirty Work, author Eyal Press argues that the social stigma against these types of work means we collectively don’t have to consider the cost or the moral weight that gets placed on theContinue reading “‘Dirty Work’ is a Sobering Reminder of What Lurks in the Economic Shadows”

‘Crane Wife’ Questions Identity, Relationships

No close relationship is totally straightforward; that’s impossible whenever two people entwine themselves around each other for whatever purpose. But romantic relationships, and the relationships we have with ourselves as beings who may get into romantic relationships, are fraught with all manner of expectations and suppositions—often implicit and inherited from our families and/or the societyContinue reading “‘Crane Wife’ Questions Identity, Relationships”

‘Paradise Falls’ an Eerie, Relevant Tale

If you were to make a list of worst places to build an elementary school surrounded by a neighborhood geared toward young families, you might include Chernobyl, an alligator-infested swamp, maybe an old minefield.  For the residents depicted in Keith O’Brian’s newest book, Paradise Falls, the extremely terrible and wholly unsafe place is an oldContinue reading “‘Paradise Falls’ an Eerie, Relevant Tale”

‘Hell’s Half-Acre’ a Rich History of a Grisly Crime

There’s a heady mythos about life in the Wild West, of gunslingers and dusty trails and sun-weathered pioneers and opportunity as wide as the horizon, all wrapped up in a whole lot of unchecked colonialism. Truth and fiction informed each other in a very meta merry-go-round until the world caught up with the enterprising migrationContinue reading “‘Hell’s Half-Acre’ a Rich History of a Grisly Crime”

‘Body’ Examines Many Facets of Race, Family

Race, as some say, is only skin deep—beneath different colored skin, we’re really all alike. And that’s true, to an extent. By and large, I think we can agree that gas prices are too high, cat videos are the heart and soul of the internet, and Kate Bush has quite the banger. Beneath the superficialityContinue reading “‘Body’ Examines Many Facets of Race, Family”

‘Home By Now’ Paints a Tempting Picture of Remote Living

Over the last couple of years, the fear of catching a deadly disease has brought about a long-overdue shift to remote working for many jobs, and along with that has come a migration away from many big cities. If all you need to communicate with your colleagues is a decent internet signal, why pay forContinue reading “‘Home By Now’ Paints a Tempting Picture of Remote Living”

‘Waves’ Combines History, Grief

It’s true that cancer’s a bit of a shortcut to tragedy, as swift and unrelenting as it often is. If AJ Dungo’s In Waves were a graphic novel, I’d probably assume this was yet another The Fault In Our Stars wannabe. But this is a graphic memoir, not a graphic novel, and I would haveContinue reading “‘Waves’ Combines History, Grief”

‘Exploding Teeth’ Nothing Short of En(gross)ing

The Wall Street Journal‘s book reviewer called The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth and Other Medical Curiosities from the History of Medicine “a delightful romp,” according to the blurb on the back of the book. While I definitely enjoyed this compendium of bizarre medical cases from a time before germs were a thing anyone knewContinue reading “‘Exploding Teeth’ Nothing Short of En(gross)ing”

Sharp Memory Cuts in ‘Grass’

“War is hard on women,” says a character near the end of Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls, ruminating on the costs the main character has endured the whole novel and will yet endure. The line ran through my head again and again as I read Keum Suk Gendry-Kim’s Grass, a graphic novel thatContinue reading “Sharp Memory Cuts in ‘Grass’”

‘Venomous’ is Science Writing at its Sharpest

I’m from a farming family and I’m from the Western U.S., which means I’ve had more than one run-in with rattlesnakes. Along with ticks, they are the reason for always wearing calf-high boots, even in the summer. Growing up, the family policy was simply to shoot on sight and rid the farm of that kindContinue reading “‘Venomous’ is Science Writing at its Sharpest”