Author du Jour: Larry Atkins

Skewed-atkins-smallSkewed: A Critical Thinker’s Guide to Media Bias,” by Larry Atkins

(Prometheus Books, pp 280, $24.00)

I am not sure how many people have read this book so far . . . But given what we now know about the Presidential elections fiasco, meant here as the shocking Trump’s victory, “Skewed,” should have been a must-read for all political parties and media outlets involved. That no polls had predicted the baffling result only makes Atkins’ point more trenchant. The fact that we had never seen such political polarization and dismissal of facts, makes “Skewed,” an even more essential read.

Skewed,” is a history of media, an analysis of the current situation of the landscape, and a courageous attempt of explain why advocacy journalism has only grown in its domination of opinions in newspapers, talk radio, news network, and the internet. The keyword here is ‘biases,’ which only leave listeners and readers stranded in competing and conflicting worldviews, where truth is often only a matter of opinions. Agenda driven, selective used of data, have resulted in a bipolar landscape, which, as we have witnessed, fails to hear those without voices. An insightful book to lift up the one-sided blindness of our time.

Author du Jour: Chris Pavone

The-Travelers-Pavone-smallThe Travelers,” by Chris Pavone (Crown Publishers pp 437, $ 27.00)

If you have read Chris Pavone’s previous novels “The Expats” and “The Accident,” you know that you will travel abroad, extensively. “The Travelers” will not disappoint you. I suspect one day, Pavone will write high-end espionage novels, à la James Bond, since he seems so comfortable in the genre, and his writing only gains in intensity.

The Travelers” is a fast-paced thriller transporting you in all the most unlikely locations in the world. Its main protagonist, Will Rhodes, is a “travel” writer for a magazine and lives out of a suitcase. It may sound like a dream, but if you are stuck in a rut in your own life make no mistake that this sort of conditions are often the result of internal “traveling” affairs. In Will’s case, crumbling marriage, crumbling house, and crumbling dreams. One day, during an assignment in Argentina, he cannot resist the temptation of a mysterious Australian woman . . . and thus starts an exhilarating domino effect of suspicions and disappearances that will put Will and his circle within immediate danger.

Author du Jour: Anne Korkeakivi

Korkeakivi.ShiningSea-smallShining Sea,” by Anne Korkeakivi

(Little, Brown and Company, pp 282, $ 26.00)

Sophomore novels have the reputation to be always the hardest one to produce, especially if the breaking-out novel was a success or generated buzzing reviews. Self-pressure being often the cause as the challenge to recapture the lengthy feat, embedded in the first published novel, is insurmountable for authors. It is not the case for “Shining Sea.” Though not a fan of multi-generational novel, I tip my hat to Anne Korkeakivi’s second novel. Recapturing she managed indeed, and with verve and energy. Recapturing here acts a crucial word, since I was reminded at once, and not to a detriment, to Woolf’s obvious “To the Lighthouse,” where the protagonist spends her day looking out the window, but rather at “Moments of Being,” her long essay on the creative process. Something today, we refer to as being present in the moment. By being completely present in an experience, we expose ourselves to possible epiphanies. And the most trivial moments are elevated in “Shining Sea,” Korkeakivi’s use of the present tense going a long way to invite the readers to connect immediately with the emotional plights of her characters.

Written in a sparse, unaffected, style, this family saga takes us straight into the universe of the Gannon’s family. Following the death of Michael Gannon, Barbara, his widow, is left alone with four kids and one still gestating, and must now confront a major readjustment in her life. The time is 1962. Rolling back the clock to post WWII, Korkeakivi displays her true talent in her ability to show how lives cross paths and disperse again in other parts of the country, while keeping all the threads intriguing. Where an amateur’s schema would have lost us, Korkeakivi’s spontaneous prose delivers a thoroughly compelling story of personal struggles in the face of grief, held together by the endless hope for self-renewal.