#questus libris Priyam Patel

My English 137 Guide for a Broke College Student

Step 1: Channel inner desire to acquire required texts for the class for as cheap as possible

Step 2: Check Sakai or the class webpage (http://exlibris.web.unc.edu/assigments/) for to links to required short readings for free (“Books and Scrolls,” “Nature of the Book,” “The Printing Press as an Agent of Change,” “The Man of the Crowd,” “Visual Culture and the Word in Poe’s The Man of the Crowd,” “Listening to Audiobooks is Just as Good as Reading,” “The Rise of Speed Listening,” “Games Telling Stories: A Brief Note on Games and Narratives). In addition, videos can be found in the calendar tab on the main website for the class next to the date it needs to be watched by (“The Eagleman Stag,” “Snooze Time,” “Cargo”).

Step 3: Check Project Gutenberg for a free downloadable copy of Herman Melville’s Pierre; Or the Ambiguities

Step 4: Find Night Circus audiobook for free on YouTube

Step 5: Use your own Netflix account (or your ex’s Netflix account, your choice) to watch The OA and Russian Doll

Step 6: Find link to Stranger than Fiction screenplay for free on Sakai

Step 7: Listen to S-Town podcast on the podcast app on iPhones

Step 8: Find someone you know who already owns a download of Life is Strange or buy it off steam when it is on sale

Step 9: Enjoy the course!

S-Town Review #questusreviewus

Brian Reed’s S-Town is an extraordinary podcast that delves into the complicated story of John B. and the community. As someone who is not a frequent listener of podcasts, S-Town was an interesting starting point in the realm of podcasts. I have to admit that I was shocked when I started listening to the first episode because I always thought podcasts were more like talk shows where a few people sit down in a room and discuss a topic for a period of time. However, Brian Reed took a different approach to what I was expecting and took the listeners on a journey to this so-called “Shittown” in rural Alabama and the story of John B.

The first few episodes of the seven-episode series focus on Brian Reed chasing the rumor of murder that John has been informing Brian Reed about. Brian Reed takes you on a journey in uncovering the truth and the twists in this murder, which leads to one event after another. These events are somewhat like small stories of life in this town and in a broader scope, life in the rural south. However, all these events seem to stray away from each other as the episodes progressed going from the murder to a treasure hunt, to interviews of John’s friends, and so on. They never seem to connect and the ending never had a proper conclusion. It feels like Brian Reed never found the conclusion to his story and just threw together all his work to fit as best as possible to make an entertaining podcast.

Despite this, the true beauty of this podcast doesn’t come events that unfolded but the message it sent. Through these various events, S-Town dove into controversial topics such as sexual repression, the collapse of society due to climate change, and most importantly mental health. The story of John B brings up heartbreaking truths about isolation and struggles of mental health that ultimately led to his suicide. He constantly discussed with Brian Reed about the effect’s climate change will have on society and how the world is collapsing. He would constantly talk about committing suicide because of the worldly changes and the depressing nature of his community. More is learned about his life after his suicide and about his sexual orientation and his relationship mishaps that contributed to his deteriorating mental health.

Instead of a crime podcast like his previous works, I would say S-Town is more about the issue of mental health. Brian Reed controversially discusses the mental health of John B, but doing this, he sends a message and brings more awareness to this growing issue. Despite the ethical questions and lawsuits Reed has faced in regards to how he conducted his research for this podcast, he creates a marvelous podcast that touches on major contemporary issues facing the world right now. The podcast is a bit disappointing that there never really is a proper conclusion to the story, but the message it sends makes up for this inconvenience and overall highlights the desire of one man to better his community regardless of the issues he was experiencing.

The OA Review – Priyam Patel #questusreviewus

The OA storyline is like mixing M&Ms and Skittles in one bowl and not knowing what you will get when you take one out of the bowl.  It never truly gives a proper conclusion to if Prairie’s experiences are true or if she is just delusional.  Despite this, The OA is a mind-boggling story that keeps you wanting more and intrigued as to how everything will play out.

The plot never provides a direct pathway to where the story is leading and keeps you conflicted for which route it may take.  It portrays elements of another dimension resembling the afterlife and that Prairie is possibly an angel but often contradicts this idea and displays signs of mental disability such as schizophrenia in Prairie.  The implementation of two different interpretations of the storyline keep the viewers watching in suspense and thinking about how it will end.  The suspense of the unknown keeps the focus of the show original and fresh which otherwise would seem like an unoriginal story about someone being enlightened or acquiring unknown powers.

The first episode, I admit, is tedious and a lot to analyze that can often scare viewers away, but quickly improves over the course of the next few episodes.  You first see Prairie, who now calls herself OA, jump off a bridge and seemingly commit suicide but later wakes up in a hospital.  The most overwhelming part is that she can now see after formerly being blind for most of her life.  Along with her present storyline and flashbacks of her childhood in Russia, the episode becomes a bit confusing and makes the focus of the story unclear due to so many different events breeding multiple interpretations of the plot. However, the progression of the story through the next seven episodes becomes more focused with OA telling her story to five people she selected and events happening in the present.

Throughout these next seven episodes, the directors keep the viewers brains working overtime to figure out what route the plot is taking.  OA explains that during her NDE, a woman named Khatun said that she is the original angel and has the power to enter another dimension.  Elements such as Scott coming back to life after OA and Homer performing a dance ritual given from Khatun make the viewers believe that OA’s experiences are true.  However, there is the idea that all these events are just her imagination because there is no proof of OA’s claims especially after being shot at the end of the season despite performing the ritual to enter another dimension.  These two ideas conflict with each other creating the suspense that keeps the viewers wanting more of this well thought out series.

Overall, directors Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling created a unique storyline in The OA and provides a spinoff to the idea of the afterlife.  Through the careful development of OA, Homer, and other supporting characters, the directors were able to create a well thought out story that doesn’t seem rushed and uninteresting as the show progressed.   Even though the ending was somewhat dissatisfying and confusing because the answer to everything wasn’t revealed and if OA is truly who she says she is or is experiencing schizophrenic behavior, the answers will hopefully be answered in the second season.

#questusreviewus Pierre; or, the Ambiguities – Priyam Patel

Pierre: or, the Ambiguities is an incoherent story without a set focus.  Melville begins with a well written and eye-catching introduction that leads us into believing this novel is a romantic coming of age story.  However, despite his mastery in language, he cannot seem to stick to one story path and creates an overly complicated plot line that focuses more on the “ambiguous” descriptions of scenery and events.  Instead of focusing on the journey of Pierre and Isabel, he leads us astray with long descriptions about Pierre’s ancestors or inanimate objects around Pierre.  I admit that these descriptions are very detailed, beautiful, and have the ability to draw the reader in, but have very little to no value towards the story itself.  Melville will spend more time on these descriptions instead of putting time towards developing a plot line.  As a result, the main story itself feels rushed, confusing, and dull as the I progressed through the novel.

By the end of the novel, I was left with more questions than answers.  It made me think what could possibly be going through Melville’s mind when he wrote this book to where he could have creating such astonishingly strange characters.  The headache I was given while trying to understand the peculiar thoughts and actions of Pierre and his associates only leaves me exhausted and uninterested in Melville’s story.  Overall, I believe this novel has a good start to the story but left me unsatisfied by the end and questioning as to why Melville took the route that he took.  If you are interested in long and mostly unnecessary descriptive text with sudden twists in an adventurous and confusing storyline, than this is the book for you, otherwise, steer clear away from this disaster of a novel.