Review of “Beyond Gatsby” by McParland




I have finally finished Robert McParland’s “Beyond Gatsby: How Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Writers of the 1920s Shaped American Culture”

I loved this book completely. I do already have a serious interest in the 1920’s when it comes to literature, art, and music but McParland’s writing style and tone really pulled me in. I found myself reading full chapters in one sitting frequently because of this. McParland who is an associate professor of English at Felician College successfully contextualizes the effects of key writers from the 1920’s on American Culture which is still evident today.

My obsession with this particular time period and specifically Modernist literature is rooted in my observation that people today are going through similar changes in culture, technology, and social relations. I am always looking to this period for insight into how culture, America, and the world rapidly changes within only a few decades. This is something that I find very intriguing and I would really love to explore in my own writing someday.

This book is divided up into seven chapters, beginning appropriately with T.S. Eliot’s Wasteland and the world after the first World War. The second chapter is devoted to the two most well-known writers of the 1920’s, Fitzgerald and Hemingway. Then, where I was delightfully surprised, McParland took an expansive look at the entirety of America in the 1920’s rather than (what I have come across frequently in similar books) focus solely on Fitzgerald and Hemingway. In chapter three, Faulkner is discussed in detail with emphasis on his style and ability to give a unique voice to the South. Chapter four is about Modernism, Pound, and James Joyce. Again, another favorite for me, I am a devout Joyce fan and I have a serious reverence for Pound.

Chapter five discusses the midwestern writers of the U.S. which I had previously little to no real knowledge of. Focusing on Sinclair Lewis, Will Cather, and Sherwood Anderson, this chapter really begins to put the entire picture of the U.S. together at this specific time in terms of literature. Chapter six is all about city writing with Dreiser, Dos Passos, Yezierska, and of course Langston Hughes. This is a pivotal point in the book where McParland talks about the Harlem Renaissance which is in fact what I plan on studying next. In chapter seven, McParland explores the writers that were both historians and influential writers in terms of setting up America’s history with mythic elements. This last chapter talked about William Carlos Williams, one of my most beloved Poets, Stephen Vincent Benet, and John Steinbeck.

McParland’s approach to 1920’s literary influence on American Culture is specific. I believe he picked a particular approach to this discussion. This was a success in my opinion because at the same time McParland really provides a full picture of the entire U.S. during this time. Not only does McParland discuss literature but music, this was The Jazz Age, and he mentions art movements and the various writers that ultimately affected American writers during this time such as Gertrude Stein.

I would recommend this book to anyone curious about literature and culture of the 1920’s. McParland is clear when he addresses how fiction helped establish a general American Mythos of what it is to be American in the 20th century. Much like popular TV Shows, fashion, media, and movies today which all contribute in one way or another to an Americans identity today. Really fascinating book and I highly recommend it!


Marilyn Manson’s latest release ‘Heaven Upside Down’

After years of Marilyn Manson and countless albums, we’ve come to ‘Heaven Upside Down‘ released only a couple weeks ago. ‘Heaven Upside Down’ calls back to the era of Manson where blame was put on the shock rocker for multiple problems within society (notably the Columbine Shootings which would mark Manson for the rest of his career).  Marilyn Manson a.k.a. Brian Warner seeks to shake the public from the comfort it finds within institutions that dumb them down and constricts them to beliefs that may be seen as more harmful (his opinion) than beneficial (Christian religions). It is worth it to look into the philosophical beliefs that Manson has himself and to acknowledge that behind his in your face attitude and abrasive personal beliefs there lies a man that is more brain and wits than just pure “Fuck You!” anthems on repeat.

‘Heaven Upside Down’ reminds me of a few earlier albums by Manson such as Mechanical Animals, Holy Wood, and The Golden Age of Grotesque (albums from the years 1998-2003). The ‘pop-iest’ song on the album I feel would be ‘KILL4ME’ that hooks listeners into a repeated chorus “Would you kill kill kill for me?”, a reminiscent love song that harkens back to the overwhelming betrayal and questioning in ‘The Golden Age of Grotesque’. There are also many songs on the album that comment on the socio-political state of America right now giving the album more weight with its sharp lyrical statements and catchy rhythms, songs such as ‘Saturnalia’ ‘Revelation #12’ and ‘WE KNOW WHERE YOU FUCKING LIVE’. A few songs that remind me of the album ‘Mechanical Animals’ would be ‘Je$u$ Cri$i$’ and ‘Blood Honey’. For ‘Holy Wood’ I would argue for ‘SAY10’ and ‘Tattooed in Reverse’. Although I do feel like many of the songs on this album synthesize multiple elements from these three albums, these particular songs could be interchangeable in where they would fit under as songs like those on ‘Mechanical Animals’, ‘Holy Wood’, or ‘The Golden Age of Grotesque’ songs.

This latest album by Manson is a welcomed one. I find relief in the music by one of my favorite artists especially in times like these. I would recommend this album to anyone with an open mind, well versed or new, to the music of Marilyn Manson, it is an album fitting for the season and year but not one to listen to lightly or shuffle through.

Music Videos thus far for songs on the ‘Heaven Upside Down’ album


Thank you for reading my writing! I hope you will return in the future! 


Hemlock Grove: Netflix Series and Novel


photo source:

I am a big fan of the Hemlock Grove series that was featured by Netflix from 2013-2015. After starting the first season I was instantly pulled into this strange horror/suspense series and shortly after I decided to read the novel (Hemlock Grove) that the Netflix series was based on by Brian McGreevy.

The novel possesses traits that remind me of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (format and stylistic approach). The narration jumps from character to character and includes text and email dialogue as well. I found McGreevy’s approach to trademark horror elements (monsters, murder and mystery) intriguing. It’s as if Hemlock Grove is an evolved version of a classic Victorian novel only with more gore and the inclusion of technology. Overall the novel is as good if not better than the Netflix series and left me wanting more.

What I love about the Netflix Series:

The characters are played by talented actors that give the characters amazing depth and complexity. As the series progresses these characters evolve and change (few for better, most for the worst) and this progression is wonderfully portrayed by the actors. Their ability to pull the inner struggles and desires from the core of these characters adds to the series as a whole.

Netflix’s approach to the subject matter and their knack for gory details satisfies my need for an ever evolving horror/suspense show that recognizes the chuckle that comes with vampires and werewolves but also adds more and makes it unique to its predecessors. These vampires (Umpirs) and Werewolves are different from the mainstream ones that have been over glorified and given too many (almost unbelievable) moralistic traits but they also contain key elements that horror fans recognize. For example the stereotype of gypsy werewolves and aristocratic origins of old vampires is paired with a werewolf gone ‘berserk’ (lol) a.k.a. Vargulf and an Umpir who uses money and science to better understand her species.

Throughout the series there is no restraints on the use of blood and bodies. The show is rated MA for Mature for a reason. I personally love the over the top use of blood and dead bodies. At certain times in the series (season one) the blood is used precisely to instill fear of the mysterious monster that is terrorizing Hemlock Grove. In season two blood is used in exaggeration (I think to reflect the gravity of the events taking place, as well as Roman’s ever increasing blood lust). The best example of the over to top use of blood is in this scene from season two episode five,

(source:  user: Nippy93)

Roman’s need for blood is seen in this ‘daydream’ of his as he fantasizes about drinking Miranda’s blood. The music and slow motion reflect his lust filled desire to indulge in his Umpir appetite. 

Alongside the use of blood and classic monsters, the story also includes unknown creatures that I have never read about (I also study folklore and mythology). This inclusion of other strange creatures is intriguing and demonstrates the stories ability to evolve and adapt to a modern audience.

The soundtrack is varied and includes many different songs spanning across multiple genres. I am curious to know if the soundtrack was chosen in collaboration with others in the production of the series or if the music is just a particular taste of one individual. I find the soundtrack refreshing and remarkably reflective of the show as a whole.

(Here is a spotify playlist that includes the songs used in the Hemlock Grove series)


With every show and story there comes a fandom. I usually indulge in looking up behind the scene photos or extra information on the actors and actresses of a series that I love but with Hemlock Grove I find myself admiring the characters from a safe distance. I’m not concerned about the questionable relationship between the two main characters, Roman and Peter, but love to dissect their attributes and actions while I read/watch Hemlock Grove.

Many lovers of Hemlock Grove gravitate to Roman Godfrey (played by Bill Skarsgard) because of his looks and of course his role as an Umpir. From what I’ve found there is little obsession over Peter (played by Landon Liboiron) which I think is a shame (or I just haven’t looked hard enough). Personally I’ve always gravitated to werewolves in horror novels and films versus vampires because of the honesty in which the werewolf operates. A werewolf cannot hide in a crowd when transformed, it is a brutal creature that kills versus a vampire that looks like anyone else when it is killing, save it’s fangs and distorted face. But really it all comes down to preference.

Overall, I would recommend Hemlock Grove to anyone that is open minded and loves Horror/Suspense shows. I can see Hemlock Grove as an acquired taste for some people and probably ridiculous to others. I personally love the Netflix Series (even with season three’s conclusion) and the novel by Brian McGreevy. I plan on re-reading the novel this summer and watching the series over again (I can’t count how many times I’ve seen the whole series, over and over again).

Please feel free to leave any responses in a comment below! I’d love to converse with any other fans of the series or expand on this small reflection in the future, given a specific topic.



If you are reading this Thank You for taking time out of your day to read my writing! I hope you return in the future!




My Summer Book List: Poetry

I’ve done a lot of debating on this and next to my giant stack of fiction books that I would love to read, I’ve decided to focus this summer on, of course, poetry.

Here are the five books (on or about Poetry) that I plan to read this summer.

  1. Singing School by Robert Pinsky, I love Pinsky and have a read a couple of his books. My first exposure to his work was his book, The Sounds of Poetry which was a concise and vivid text. I found Pinsky’s work to be invaluable and would  highly recommend it to any poet of any age.
  2. Poets on Poetry edited, with an Introduction, by Charles Norman. I got this book at the UofU’s book sale this Spring and it has been in a stack of books by my desk for a couple months now. It has articles and pieces written by well-known poets defending, or attempting to explain Poetry. My copy is from 1962 and is published by THE FREE PRESS, New York.
  3. The Contemporary Poet as Artist and Critic, eight symposia edited by Anthony Ostroff, again this is an older book that I picked up at the UofU book sale. It was published in 1964 by Little, Brown and Company in Boston and Toronto. This book contains critiques done by Poets on Poetry. The poets that critique include Adrienne Rich, Theodore Roethke, Karl Shapiro, W.D. Snodgrass, May Swenson and W.H. Auden among many many more.
  4. T.S. Eliot: A Collection of Critical Essays edited by Hugh Kenner, I bought this book also at the UofU booksale and was so excited since I had just finished reading one of these Critical Essay books (Twentieth Century Views) on F.Scott Fitzgerald which I thought to be extremely valuable. The Twentieth Century Views books are a series devoted to collections of Critical Essays on writers and poets. These books are from the 1960’s and were published by Prentice-Hall, Inc. in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.
  5. Yeats: A Collection of Critical Essays edited by John Unterecker, this is another Twentieth Century Views book, this time on Yeats. Published by Prentice-Hal, Inc. in Englewood N.J. in the 1960’s.


I know that most of these books may be difficult to get since some are more than 50 years old and out of print. But I enjoy reading older books on poetry that I find so that I can compare what people said about Poets/Poetry to what they say now. I have a few anthologies that are only twenty years apart that have stark contrasts in content, style, and attitude towards particular poets and poetry, which is fascinating.

By the end of the summer I hope to have read if not all of these books at least three out of the five. I also have a giant stack of fiction books that I want to read as well. I plan on posting that list soon, within a week or two.

I have also been speculating on posting a book list containing my favorite books on how to write and read poetry and short fiction. I have many of these and usually during the summer time I will reread a few to keep my mind fresh.

I hope that if any of you have suggestions for Poetry books or Short Fiction to read that you leave the title and author information in a comment below.


If you are reading this Thank You for taking time out of your day to read my writing! I hope you return in the future!


Fight Club: Reflection #1

Hello Readers!

I have debated on doing a reflection on Fight Club (1999) for a while now. I know I could analyze and critique hundreds of points in this film but have decided to do a small reflection on Tyler Durden’s Philosophy of Life for today. I found this short snippet labeled with this title (Philosophy of Life) on Youtube and thought it is the perfect slice from the movie to include with this post.

Youtube vid:


I want to address a handful of items that have stood out to me from watching Fight Club and reading the novel (published in 1996) by Chuck Palahniuk multiple of times over the years.


Tyler’s Critique on Consumerism in America. In the youtube vid, Tyler comments on the evolution of man and how in modern society they have become consumers,

“We’re consumers. We are by-products of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty, these things don’t concern me. What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy’s name on my underwear. Rogaine, Viagra, Olestra.” (

Tyler also advocates, letting everything go and not fulfilling society’s standards for men. Ultimately he wants revolution,

” I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who have ever lived an entire generation pumping gas and waiting tables; or they’re slaves with white collars. Advertisements have them chasing cars and clothes, working jobs they hate so they can buy shit they don’t need. We are the middle children of history, with no purpose or place. We have no great war, or great depression. The great war is a spiritual war. The great depression is our lives. We were raised by television to believe that we’d be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars — but we won’t. And we’re learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed-off.” (

The social critique found throughout Fight Club is relevant especially now. We are walking advertisements, branding ourselves through our purchases of clothes, cars, and food. And the products that we buy which are made for pennies, costs us $$$$ just to own. For the middle and lower class, often working two or three jobs is necessary to survive but with the bombardment of messages that tell us ‘How to be Happy’ and How to have a ‘meaningful’ and ‘fulfilled’ life, we are left scrambling to keep up with others, buying products so that we can be perceived as ‘complete’ and ‘happy’.

“You’re not your job, you’re not how much money you have in bank, you’re not the car you drive, you’re not the contents of your wallet, you’re not your fucking khakis, you’re all-signing all-dancing crap of the world.” (

But what Tyler reveals (and what resounds with audiences even now) is that things don’t make people happy, working shit jobs don’t make people happy, doing what we love to do (what we’ve always wanted to do) makes us happy. This is evident in Tyler’s threat to the convenience store clerk (gun to the back to his head) “What did you want to be?!” (Movie: Fight Club 1999)

Tyler pushes men and the audience to reflect on their lives. We are what society makes us and for most of us we accept this regardless of how miserable it makes us.

Now this is only one aspect of Tyler’s seemingly evolving philosophy which eventually leads to acts of Terrorism that (pre-9/11) are intriguing acts on their own. Tyler wants to dismantle the corrupted society of modern man and free the oppressed.

In these messages, the novel and film have become a legend and cultural icons for the working class and men. Tyler Durden as a character has become a mythical figure that inspires revolution and freedom of thought in the oppressed modern society. He asks us to question our lives, what we value and our roles in society. He asks us to FIGHT BACK.

Tyler has become more than a literary presence but an ideology that has spread across the world inspiring men and women to act, and create their own ‘Fight Clubs’ (real or in other forms). This creation, Fight Club, is a remarkable achievement for Chuck Palahniuk and still inspires readers (and watchers) today.


There is also the discussion that Fight Club (film and novel) is for specifically male audiences. As a woman, I agree only partially with this discussion since almost everything I love is labeled ‘masculine’ by culture that I love. I can see the critique on the male role in society, I see comments on ‘hyper masculinity’ and what it means to ‘be a man’. I can see ties to the struggle of self under the pressure of society (in regards to men) and I can see that the only female role: Marla Singer represents the ‘hitting bottom’ female counterpart to Tyler (give her credit, she ‘hit-bottom’ way before Tyler and lives in it).

As a woman appreciating the film and text of Fight Club, I take away the social critique and acknowledgement of male roles in society, the grittiness (and violence, love that too!) and deep resonance with the aching modern soul that is so perfectly articulated in this legendary story. I would never advocate to change Fight Club for female viewers but I would argue against people that say Fight Club is ONLY for men.

This is only a small reflection, and I labeled it appropriately ‘PART #1’ for a reason. I want to expand more on Fight Club and plan to add more to my discussion sometime this weekend.


other sources:


If you are reading this, Thank You for taking time out of your day to read my writing and I hope you return in the future!




Announcement: Films, Music, Art Topics

Hello Readers!

I plan on posting a few things this week, here is what to expect,

Poetry: Post that includes 1-3 poems that I am currently working on.

Short Story: Post that includes a short story that I am currently working on.


Films, Music, Art: Here are the topics I am considering writing on, would love your input or vote in the comments below as well as suggestions!


Movies: Cabin in the Woods (2012)

Evil Dead (1981) or (2013)

Fight Club (1999)

The Twilight Zone (1959-1964) ANY EPISODE

American Psycho (2000)

American Mary (2012)


Music:    Iggy Pop (selected album)

Black Sabbath (selected album)

MARILYN MANSON (selected album)* could expand heavily on


Art: Egon Schiele

Robert Mapplethorpe

Frida Kahlo


Thank you for any suggestions! I hope you return in the future!