Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire

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Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire Directed by Lee Daniels (Lionsgate, 2009)

Black is beautiful. Black, obese, poor, functionally illiterate, abused, pregnant, despised, and drowning in an ocean of pain, 16-year-old Clarisse "Precious" Jones (played by Gabourey Sidibe) and the startling film director Lee Daniels and writer Geoffrey Fletcher have fashioned about her is a thing of beauty. She is disturbing, fascinating, and profoundly human, well worth a long, loving look from audiences more accustomed to saving their adoring glances for the likes of Julia Roberts.


Field of Compassion

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Field of Compassion By Judy Cannato (Sorin Books, 2010)

I'm no Albert Einstein. Science is just not my thing. Even Ira Flatow (of NPR's "Science Friday" fame) can't get me excited about sub-atomic particles, black holes, and astrophysics. But Judy Cannato can.


Allison Moorer: Crows

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Crows (Rykodisc, 2010)
Allison Moorer

Last night I warned a college writing class against assuming that the "speaker" of a poem was in fact the poet. But it's hard to ignore the life behind Allison Moorer's art. Moorer was 14 when she and her sister witnessed their father kill their mother and then himself.


The Young Victoria (Apparition, 2009)

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Stories about Queen Elizabeth I make extraordinary drama because her reign shattered the patriarchal myth that ruling a kingdom was a man's job.

One Fast Move Or I'm Gone

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Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard (F-Stop/Atlantic Record/2009)

Since his death in 1969, beat novelist Jack Kerouac has become a pop-culture perennial. Each generation of young rebels lays claim to his restless spirit, while a few sad cases also imitate his drinking to no good end. This album represents yet another change of the beatnik guard as Ben Gibbard of indie rock groups such as Postal Service and Death Cab for Cutie and Jay Farrar of the alt-country bands Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt set to music passages from Kerouac's novel Big Sur (Penguin).


Up in the Air

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Up in the Air directed by Jason Reitman (Paramount Pictures, 2009)

Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits

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Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits By Linda Gordon (W. W. Norton & Company, 2009)

In the 1930s President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Farm Security Administration wanted to show America the faces of millions of farmworkers devastated by the Great Depression. This New Deal agency hired a small band of photographers to take pictures of Mexican migrant workers, African American sharecroppers, and Dust Bowl refugees.


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