Recommended Reading: Silence Once Begun, by Jesse Ball


The most common feature of life at Brown is all of the wonderful free time students have. Now, what to do with all of it? Ha, ha. Ha. Okay, we’re obviously all up to our necks in work, but if any of you are like me, you’re apt to spend some of your precious sober leisure time with a good book. Recommended Reading is a biweekly column in which I’ll tell you what I think is worth reading. If you don’t have the time to sit down and read Moby Dick (You should try to find time, though; it’s great.), don’t worry. The content will include poetry, comics, short stories, and perhaps the occasional essay. If you think I’m a hack and all of my opinions are shallow and boring, feel free to hate-read.

It’s rather unusual for a writer to focus on the meanings conveyed by a lack of language, but Jesse Ball’s novel Silence Once Begun focuses on exactly those vague conveyances of thought. In so doing, he crafts a tale that is both engaging and mysterious, following a crooked path through the tale that is fraught with doubt and ambiguity.

The novel is narrated by Jesse Ball, though how much the character overlaps with the author himself is never entirely clear. When his wife stops speaking to him, Ball journeys to Japan to research the decades-old case known as the Narito Disappearances. The crime in question involved the mysterious vanishings of elderly people who lived alone in the Narito area. The man who signed a confession to the crime, a reserved thread-store worker named Oda Sotatsu. Sotatsu signs the confession after losing a bet to two other people: a man named Sato Kakuzo, and a woman named Jito Joo. But even as he wastes away in prison, Sotatsu never speaks to the police, neither to proclaim his innocence, nor admit his guilt. Continue Reading

(Campus)Lifehacker: Read almost any book you want for free

Ever wanted to read a book for fun (yes, I said fun) but couldn’t find it in any of Brown’s libraries? Or maybe you just want to get hold of some obscure academic book that will make your paper stand out. In either case, I have great news for you bibliophiles (if you didn’t understand that word, you’re probably not one) you can almost certainly get the book you want, and all it requires is a few clicks:

  1. Go to Josiah (no not that one).
  2. After making sure Brown doesn’t have the book, type the book title in the easyBorrow search bar (image guide below).
  3. That search bar.

    That search bar.

  4. A list of books will pop up. Choose the one you want. You will be taken to the book’s page within the database.
  5. Directly below the basic book information it will say: “You are connected to the Brown University network,” and there is an option “Request This Item.” Click it. (Don’t worry—you’ll incur no additional charges; and that was such a good imitation of University communications).
  6. That’s it! The page might ask you to log into Brown’s network (the username and password you use for Banner), but then you’re done.

When the book arrives, an email will be sent to your Brown email, and the pick-up location will be specified (Rock or SciLi). Just go there, flash your Brown ID, smile widely (or maybe not, that’s a bit creepy) and then go to a secluded corner to cuddle up with your new best friend. Just remember to thank BlogDH for this awesome tip!

Image via.

Jeffrey Eugenides is stalking me (or how ‘The Marriage Plot’ is all too real)

Last October, Jeffrey Eugenides ’83, author of Middlesex and The Virgin Suicides, published The Marriage Plot, a novel that follows Brown students from their 1982 Commencement through their following year in the harsh real world. Although the ensuing literary hoopla has subsided, I still haven’t forgotten the relatively extreme existential crisis the book triggered in me.

I’d picked up a copy at the Brown Bookstore and settled into a Blue Room sofa. As I flipped through the pages, moving through the Commencement-day flashbacks, it slowly began to dawn on me that I was messing with the fabric of time and space. I WAS A CHARACTER IN THE MARRIAGE PLOT EVEN AS I PERUSED IT. How did Jeffrey Eugenides know my life?

“Ok, calm down,” I reminded myself. “First of all, it’s set in the 1980s. Secondly, Eugenides went to Brown, so obviously he’d know the day-to-day existence of an average student.” But I still couldn’t shake the feeling he was writing about me. Consider the evidence:

Continue Reading

Thanksgiving Reading: Some Novel Ideas to Inspire Your Book List

We know Thanksgiving is all about family time food, but it it also marks our last few days of freedom before finals come rolling through (eeeek!). What will you do with your time on these precious days? Well, chances are you probably haven’t been able to read or watch something for yourself since the semester started, so you can’t pass up on the opportunity to veg out with a good book or movie. But which to do? Read a book? Watch a movie? We have the perfect compromise! Here’s a list of some quick reads that are being adapted into films in 2012! While you’re traveling home or maybe while you’re nursing that turkeystuffingpumpkinpie-induced food baby, dig into one of these movies-t0-be.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

A badass teenage girl named Katniss fights to the death with a bow and arrow. Drama, violence, a love triangle and a man-made killer (literally) arena are all televised to the nation of Panem, the tattered remains of what was once North America. Continue Reading

Carrie Bradshaw, Brown’s latest fictional alum

Carrie Bradshaw is joining the slew of fictional characters who ‘attended’ Brown. Candace Bushnell, author of Sex and the City, recently released Summer and the City: A Carrie Diaries Novel as part of her young adult series that follows the Sex and the City characters as teenagers. Set in the early 1980s, Summer and the City follows Carrie after her high school graduation as she prepares to attend Brown in the fall. To Sex and the City fans like myself, it comes as no surprise that Carrie went to Brown. We should’ve known that such a character obviously spent her undergrad years on College Hill…

1)    In the pilot episode, Carrie and her friends vow to challenge gender roles and start  having sex “like men.”

2)    Her only employment comes from her job as a weekly sex columnist. Her ‘assignments’ require her to go to various bars, clubs, and other NYC hot spots to meet men—sounds sort of like something that could be a GISP.

3)    She has commitment issues. Clearly, she enjoyed Brown’s lax policy about being able to drop a class at any point in the semester.

4)    She’s a pro at living in a cramped, small apartment. She probably gained those skills after a housing lottery disaster.

5)    She is trendy, expressive, and bold—which makes sense since Brown is the most fashionable Ivy, according to Women’s Wear Daily. The respected trade journal wrote that styles at Brown include “downtown NY hipster,”  “stiletto-clad sophisticate,” and “patch-worked bohemian.” Carrie Bradshaw rocks all three of these looks.

Japanese-sponsored nostalgia for non-hipster fashion

Tired of all the sweatpants and pajama bottoms, super-skinny jeans and plaid shirts? Ready for a return to a more classic, preppy style?

Take your inspiration from Take Ivy, a Japanese book featuring candid photos of people (okay, men) on Ivy League campuses, originally published in 1965. It became a big hit in Japan in the ’60s, as people started to imitate the Ivy League preppy style. The book was reprinted at the end of August, and may be seeing a bit of popularity. There certainly are a lot of people writing about it. Jack Spade is even creating a Take Ivy Kit, featuring a preppy shirt, a book strap, and a copy of the book. (Don’t worry, we secretly want one too.)

Maybe we’ll see a resurgence of the preppy style? Let’s hope so.

Shopping suggestions? Insistence on continued hipsterism? Tell us in the comments!