Wandering Wanderlust

Book Reviews

We all make snap decisions, and whoever says otherwise is a liar. When UK novelist Adam Millard reached out to me to review his eclectic piece Wanderlust, I was a bit taken aback. Not because of his brave use of strong imagery, but because his sheer willingness to bring the world’s attention to that of steampunk. One of the first and truest forms of subversion, steampunk is the perfect blend of technology and industrial aesthetics that gives Millard’s work a sense of modernity but also a tinge of nostalgia.

Millard’s Wanderlust is energetic and refreshing in its portrayal of suspense in turn of the century London. The story finds the self-aware and agile Abigale Egars, infamous art thief, is a heroine for the ages. She’s unapologetic and intelligent, quite literally, up for anything. Egars is soon kidnapped by the faceless The Guild, an organization that wishes to extract the wisdom from Egars’ mind via an implanted device. Egars is then forced to embark on several quests by The Guild, throwing her life in danger and enabling her to question the true value of art in the new world order.

Wanderlust

The short life of Strangers’ Hospital on Avenue D

Random Musings

Ephemeral New York

Strangershospital2015Built in 1827, the brick building at 143-145 Avenue D, at Tenth Street, is the oldest structure in Alphabet City.

The many-times-remodeled building served first as the Dry Dock Banking House, then as a laundry, cigarette factory, clothing store, even a squat.

But for three years, from 1871 to 1874, it was the Strangers’ Hospital, an institution built by John Keyser, a manufacturer turned philanthropist who had already funded a lodging house called the Strangers’ Rest on Pearl Street.

In a benevolent-minded, Gilded Age city, he established a home “for the relief of suffering” for the “deserving sick poor.”

Strangershospitalbook

It was not intended, “for the benefit of the wealthy, who in times of sickness can command the comforts of a well-ordered home and the attendance of a skillful physician of surgeon,” said the president of the Strangers’ Hospital on opening day in February 1871.

“Nor yet for…

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What Brooklyn looked like in summer 1820

Random Musings

Ephemeral New York

Landscape artist Francis Guy painted “Summer View of Brooklyn” in 1820 from the vantage point of 11 Front Street in today’s DUMBO.

That means this collection of tidy barns and houses would be located under the Brooklyn Bridge. That even looks like a nascent Manhattan skyline, with steeples, in the distance.

Francisguysummerscene

Things have changed a lot in 195 years. A summer view of today’s Brooklyn from Front Street would look more like this, with crowds sweltering on line at Grimaldi’s pizza.

Frontstreetbrooklyn

Guy painted the same scene from Front Street in winter 1820 as well. The winter scene is more detailed, with various residents working and going about their day.

Who were the hardy Brooklynites he depicted? This key from the Brooklyn Museum decodes their names and which house belonged to who.

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Club Nouveau

Book Reviews

The speculative fiction genre is a sneaky one. It tends to coalesce the ever-popular Science Fiction genre with fantasy and horror, often with an end result like a weird fusion of Star Trek and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  New novelist Donald McEwing takes this all-encompassing genre and spins it to meet his own literary agenda as illustrated in his work Nouveau Haitiah.

The novel itself acts as a cerebral massage; though containing characters that have popped up in literature over time, they are bold and original in their intents and overarching plans. The main characters in “Haitiah” are a motley crew of sorts in terms of literary themes. There’s the strong heroine, the sucker who wants to stay young forever, and the witch. Each of the aforementioned jointly embark on the sordid quest of historical preservation and ultimate redemption. Along the way of these concurrent quests, McEwing masterfully documents the existence of an organic, exciting, and exotic world that is described in ways that enable the reader to envision its existence.

Nouveau Haitiah

What Went Wrong in Stephen King’s “Finders Keepers”?

Book Reviews

I’m pretty confident when I say that when Stephen King stops writing, the world of literature will never be the same. His uncanny ability to pump out wholly original stories every single year is astounding to me. What makes it even more remarkable is that King manages to subvert genres right when they are on the precipice of extinction, breathing new life into staid conventions all the while infusing ever so subtle flourishes of the supernatural. In recent years, King has seemingly devoted his interest to writing straight-up crime thrillers. There are no menacing clowns hiding in the sewer grates, nor are there any invisible domes encapsulating a small town in Maine. Instead, the monsters are not so literal.  Nope, King’s new style of monster is the omnipresent kid at the local Best Buy who also happens to be a serial killer. He’s the granola carnie at the local amusement park who is all pimples and teeth but is a pulsating maniac underneath the surface. In more ways that not, King’s new type of monster is more terrifying than the ones that have popped up in works from IT and Needful Things in that the creature is not an inaccessible being but someone, quite literally, in your own backyard.

Finders Keepers