Listen to “The One True”

In these troubled times, would we even recognize a hero if one walked among us? Such is the premise of “The One True.” Part social commentary, part magical realism, this is a story that will resonate deeply.  Listen at Podbean, Amazon Music, or by clicking the player below. You can also read it in my short story collection called Happy, Sad, Funny, Mad.

Listen To “Thumb War”

Hannah Cane has taken the underground competitive thumb wrestling world by storm. Her intellect, improvisation, and unrelenting willpower plays a role in defeating her opponents with such efficiency that she’s been nicknamed “The Machine.” At the championship match, however, she’s accused of fraudulence. Is there any way an average sized woman could somehow cheat her way to victory against men twice her size? Find out the answer by listening at Podbean, Amazon Music, the player below, or read it in my short story collection titled Happy, Sad, Funny, Mad.

Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath – A Book Review

I recently heard about Switch: How To Change Things When Change Is Hard during a WorkLife With Adam Grant podcast. It immediately grabbed my attention because, during the podcast, they addressed that major changes often have to start off with very small, focused steps. I wanted to know more.

I put the book on hold at my favorite library, Normal Public Library, and dug in the minute it arrived.

Nonfiction can always be a little laborious for me. In the past, I’ve found that many nonfiction books tend to deliver the crux of the topic upfront and then provide anecdote after anecdote after anecdote illustrating that main argument without really saying anything new.

Switch is not the typical nonfiction book. It breaks the main topic into three key components evenly distributed throughout the book, and each component builds upon the previous. This creates a pleasant pace that entices the audience to keep reading. Furthermore, while the book is full of illustrative examples, they are all radically different from one another. The Heath brothers deliver stories concerning changes needed in big government, small villages in Vietnam, hospitals, St. Lucia wildlife, department stores, rural American towns, breast cancer centers, a railroad company in Brazil, and much, much more. Best of all? Each change succeeded, and they explain how.

In fact, the Heaths provide three overarching steps required to enact any kind of change, no matter how big or small. What are those steps? You’ll have to read the book.

Quite honestly, out of all the nonfiction I’ve read, this is among my favorites. It’s well written, superbly paced, captivating, and actually applicable to all avenues of life. If you’re seeking change, I highly recommend you read Switch.

All Of the Marvels by Douglas Wolk – A Book Review

As I strolled through the Normal Public Library, the above cover caught my eye primarily because of the little box in the corner depicting two heroic people, just like the comic books I enjoyed as a kid.

I picked it up, read the inside jacket, and–yep!–this book was written specifically for me.

With All Of the Marvels, Douglas Wolk, the author, took it upon himself to read every super hero comic book published by Marvel Comics. Every. Last. One.

We won’t get into the semantics as to how he did this, just accept the fact that he did. From there, Wolk breaks the book into categories dealing with prevalent themes. Some chapter titles include: “The Junction To Everywhere,” “The Mutant Metaphor,” and “The Iron Patriot Acts.” He also provides interesting interludes between chapters like “Diamonds Made of Sound,” “March, 1965,” and “Linda Carter.” Finally, the book finishes with an appendix zipping through Marvel’s overarching eras.

The truth is, the book gets off to a slow start because Wolk spends a lot of time setting the table, so to speak. About three chapters, if I’m not mistaken. However, once he actually dives into the comics and characters, the book flies. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Does Wolk address every single character and event that ever took place in Marvel Comics? No, that would be impossible to do in a work that you actually want people to read. But he finds captivating through lines, amazing coincidences, unintentional connections, and life-imitates-art moments. He also delves into the creators themselves with names such as Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Chris Claremont, and Walter Simonson.

In a book around 350 pages, Wolk successfully provides a substantive, thorough, analytical overview of Marvel Comics history, and he does so in an engaging, informal way. For die-hard Marvel fans, this is a must-read. For those casually interested in Marvel, the comics medium, or expansive storytelling, you will also be greatly rewarded for your time. Needless to say, I highly recommend All Of the Marvels by Douglas Wolk.