The Holy Terrors – Jean Cocteau

Jean Cocteau was a true Jacques-of-all-trades. Throughout his life and career he garnered both critical and popular acclaim as a filmmaker, playwright, designer, author, and poet. His inner circle of friends and collaborators included Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky, Coco Chanel, Eric Satie, and Marlene Dietrich. Cocteau penned Les Enfants Terribles (1929) during a week of…

Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) often catches readers off guard. Centuries of stage and screen adaptations have resulted in a game of interpretative broken telephone that distances us from the original narrative’s poignant reflections on human nature. Our eighteenth reader studied the novel as a high school student and as an undergraduate. We sat down to…

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies – Jared Diamond

In this seventeenth episode I make a new friend, we grab some beer, and sit down to discuss Jared Diamond’s deconstruction of 13,000 years of human history, the spread of colonialism, and racial exceptionalism in Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies (1997). This ambitious work of non-fiction quickly became an international bestseller…