Review: The Devil Finds Work

The Devil Finds Work by James Baldwin

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I can’t decide if my reticence in calling The Devil Finds Work more than “just” film criticism lies in my astonishment and admiration for the sheer breadth of of the essay or a falsehood I’ve internalized somewhere that criticism cannot get too far afield from the text it’s critiquing. The first is, if problematic and exceptionalizing, a product of my aching love for this essay; the latter is something to work on. Late in the essay, the reader is asked to question the motives of filmmakers adapting material: “What do the filmmakers wish us to learn?” (112). And the answer, no matter the text, will necessarily engage the reader with their culture and its deepest assumptions, values, and fears. Calling The Devil Finds Work more than film criticism implies that criticism shouldn’t be striving for that truth.

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Review: The Lost City of Z

The Lost City of Z by David Grann

During the first year of The Literary Omnivore (oh, how weird is that to say?), I picked up a lot of recommendations from Paperback Row, a feature in The New York Times Book ReviewThe Lost City of Z is such a recommendation. Those recommendations tend to fall to the bottom of my reading list, picked up later, when I barely recall what the book is about (which is an adventure all on its own!). But I heard good things about The Lost City of Z and ended up finding a copy at a local thrift store over the summer—the one with the poorer book selection, which is a miracle all on its own. I took it to college with me, but never really got around to reading it until fantasy burnout struck after Narnia Week; then, I desperately needed some nonfiction to act as aloe for my brain, so I picked up The Lost City of Z. There’s something to be said for timing in a read; perhaps because it was just what I needed, it blew me away.

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