Jen Bingham


Month: December 2013 (page 1 of 2)

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

390px-CrimeandpunishmentcoverThis book is made of fear. I started it as a book on tape but it was just Too Much. I was arriving everywhere covered in sweat, eyes rolling like a nervous horse as I sank into Raskolnikov’s psychological nest of despair and rage. Gnawed by poverty, depression, hunger, and some dumb intellectual theories he uses to create moral loopholes for himself, the young man arrives on the first page unraveled and continues to deteriorate as he approaches and commits a heinous crime. I picked up a paper copy and read it on the plane. I wasn’t the friendliest traveler.

Verdict: Yup, you need to read this
Genre: Russian Literature

Man Alive by Mary Kay Zuravleff


Sliding coins into a parking meter, Dr. Owen Lerner is struck by lightning; survives as a damaged person his family doesn’t quite recognize. He’s obsessed with the moment he flew through the air, crackling with electricity and knowledge of the world’s true beauty. His wife and children struggle with changed family dynamics and the aftermath of trauma that ripples through each of them and gnaws at other lives. The characters are well developed and sympathetically portrayed, but nonetheless largely unlikable.  The real stars in this story are the author’s finely worked prose and her insights into family politics and pain.

Verdict: Thumbs up
Genre: Literary


Occupy Owl Street

This owl is protesting consumerism. Mainly because he didn’t get any Christmas presents.

“These nest boxes are definitely beneficial for the owls in commercially harvested forests, where there aren’t many natural woodpecker holes.

Pictured: A Barn Owl, peering from nest site in derelict barn.

Picture: David Tipling/SOLENT

Picture: David Tipling/SOLENT

Your Sunday Comic: Holiday Edition

Merry Early Christmas everyone! This is a comic from the creator of Nedroid Picture Diary. You can find him online at

I am in love with these reindeer’s faces and names. Sticker is the best looking. The best name is Gramble. Which is your favorite?





The Name of The Star by Maureen Johnson

name of star

Rory, a sassy American teen who hates sports, is spending a year at an English boarding school (rubs hands with glee). While struggling to fit into her new surroundings, Rory gains The Sight by choking on a piece of greasy meat.

Next thing you know, someone is staging a Jack the Ripper-style murder spree in modern day London, he’s a ghost, and we meet some sexy ghost police. This book handles an awful lot of plot with great panache. The obligatory teen romance seemed a little thrown together, but otherwise I had a lot of fun. More books to follow!

Verdict: Yes if you like YA
Genres: YA, paranormal, humor, horror

No More Lollygagging!

Think Kit Day 19: If money, time or other commitments were no obstacle in 2014, what would you do? Describe your vision!

Here’s what I want from you 2014: Unlimited drive to do what I want. I want my life to be a country song. I’m gonna dance like nobody’s watching (okay, sorry, just threw up), write like my hands are on fire (even though that may turn out to be counterproductive when I really think about it), and just basically kick ass.

I want to find an agent and publisher for my novel (it’s called Brown County Pig Detective, thanks for asking), go to town on the novel I just started, work on this blog, and get shit published in some cool places like nobody’s business. And even if I don’t publish a thing, I want to write a ton. I want producing good, terrible, and mediocre prose and poetry to be a normal part of every day.


Babayaga by Toby Barlow

If you need a story about a beautiful witch who murders her lovers as soon as they ask why she’s not aging, you found it. If you’d like it to be set in Paris in the 50s, with some spies and Nazis thrown in, you’ve hit the jackpot. And if you’re looking for a multiple point-of-view novel where a character gets turned into a flea then captured by sadistic artists who run a flea circus, here you go. Fierce ghosts who speak in terrible poetry also included.

This book could have been tighter, but works its ass off to entertain.

Verdict: Thumbs up
Genres: Fantasy, mystery, horror, literary

Give the people what they want

The main feedback I get about my social meeting presence is: Hey, that story was cool, bro, but could you please post more animal pictures from the Interwebs?

Here are a bear and a bee.


Picture: Terry Cervi/Caters News


Follow the recipe – or don’t

Think Kit Day 14: Did you get any good advice or learn a valuable lesson this year? Was it expected or unexpected, easy or tough?

Say you’re baking bread. Say you’re using this no-knead method from Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day. Say that the recipe calls you to place a pan in the oven while you preheat it. Then you pour water into the heated pan when you put the bread in to bake on the baking stone. Don’t swap out the metal pan specified in the recipe for a glass lasagna dish!

The reason for this is that the glass dish will explode in your face when you pour water into it. Fortunately, it’s made of some weird glass so it explodes in a relatively civilized fashion. And you wear glasses that protect your eyes.

Still, the noise is loud. It’s like a gunshot. And the glass goes everywhere. You have to pull the oven out from the wall to clean behind it. This in a house built in 1885. You didn’t want to see what was back there. And then you have to unscrew the bottom of the oven and lift it off to find the glass that weaseled down into the vents. It’s all so intimate. And you’re so tired. You haven’t been sleeping.

The noise, though. That exploding dish. The crack. It was such a shock and it stays with you for days — along with a feeling of lightness. It’s like the explosion took a part of you and destroyed it. The part that believed you were a monster. It blew up, it blew up. And then you cleaned the oven and made some bread.

Your Sunday Comic

I love Anne Emond. She’s a lady cartoonist who lives in Brooklyn. Her cartoon protagonist is grumpy, awkward, smart, and has a cat. You can find her at

This is kind of how I felt yesterday.


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