August 12th, 2014 by Jeff Widmer
Many reviewers compare Taylor Stevens’ Vanessa Michael Munroe to Stieg Larsson’s hacker Lisbeth Salander. But I think Munroe owes some of her literary genes to one of the original cyberpunks, William Gibson.
In 2003’s Pattern Recognition, Gibson gives us cool-hunter Cayce Pollard and a head-rush culture addicted to self and fueled by anxiety. In Stevens’ first Munroe novel, The Informationist, the author presents a character who polishes her paranoia like a talisman. We find a similar theme in Larsson’s dragon tattoo trilogy, where the government Salander trusts becomes the monster of betrayal. All three vacuum information for a living.
Gibson, most famous for computer mind-meld books like Neuromancer and Mona Lisa Overdrive, uses the digital world to portray disorientation and chaos. Stevens uses water and dirt to create the claustrophobic feel of corruption and pursuit. Different characters, different settings, yet books with surprising menace from the very people assigned to protect us.
Do we recognize a pattern?
August 8th, 2014 by Jeff Widmer
I’m staring at a mug I bought at a craft show in 2008. The potter has glazed the outside in muted blues and greens and let the speckled brown surface show in faint rows. It is a serviceable piece.
Inside, the colors burst from the sides, washing over circles like watercolor, changing hue and depth as they flow.
I have a bowl like that. We use it to hold fruit. On the outside it looks utilitarian. On the inside, the colors explode. We see the outside daily. We notice the inside only when we clean the bowl.
Why do potters hide their best work? Comments are open.
April 7th, 2014 by Jeff Widmer
Three years ago, Lea Hartman took up photography to deal with the pressures of life as an Army spouse. Today she’s leveraged that interest into a project devoted to showing the strength of fellow wives.
To date she has photographed nine women for the I Am Project, a collection of black and white images featuring a military wife with an empowering expression painted on her body. The expressions range from “I am Independent,” to “I am a Survivor” to “I am Blessed.”
“I decided to create a series of images that allow us to put a voice and a face to the title of ‘Army Wife,’” Hartman told Sarah Campbell of the Fayetteville Observer. “I felt military spouses weren’t well represented in the media in general.”
The photos are simple, direct and moving. Much of their power comes from their authenticity. As Lea says on the project website, “Though we may not wear a uniform, we serve our country with each breath we take.”
You can see the work at the I Am Project website and on Hartman’s blog and read her story on Stars and Stripes.