(Posted Wednesday) Congratulations to Shawn Vestal, staff writer and columnist at The Spokesman-Review – and a former colleague of mine. Vestal’s short story collection “Godforsaken Idaho” has been named to the short list of the PEN Literary Awards. Vestal’s collection is one of the five finalists in contention for the 2014 R obert W. Bingham Prize, an award for a debut work of fiction that carries with it a $25,000 award.
Here are some of the comments made about Vestal’s story collection:
From Kirkus: “A provocative and revelatory debut, filled with stories about losing faith and trying (often in vain) to find purpose, mainly set amid the sparsely populated Mormon country of the rugged Northwest.”
From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “ ‘Godforsaken Idaho’ is a rewarding introduction to a new author.”
From Oprah.com: “ ‘Godforsaken Idaho’ (New Harvest), Shawn Vestal’s slam-dunk debut, casts a cinematic shadow on the American West.”
At the movies
(Posted Tuesday) From Clint Eastwood directing a Broadway musical to sci-fi mystery to Australian noir, the coming week has some interesting mainstream offerings. Friday’s movie openings are as follows:
“Jersey Boys”: The surprising thing here is that Eastwood was tapped to direct. Otherwise, everything about this dramatized story of the rise of the ’60s-era singing group The Four Seasons seems like a fairly standard date-night flick. So take your candy girl and walk like a man to the box office.
“Think Like a Man Too”: The sequel to 2012’s “Think Like a Man” brings the whole cast back for a Las Vegas wedding. Two words: Kevin Hart.
“The Signal”: Three college student stumble onto an isolated area in the U.S. Southwest and, suddenly, one finds himself in a waking nightmare. Where are Mulder and Scully when we need them?
“The Rover”: The Australian Outback makes the perfect backdrop in which to explores tales of societal collapse (anyone remember “Mad Max”?). This David Michod (“Animal Kingdom”) film features Guy Pearce as a man bent on retrieving something he lost to thieves. Oh, and don’t forget that “Twilight” guy, too.
And at the Magic Lantern:
“Lucky Them”: Toni Collette stars as a jaded journalist in search of a former rock star (and former boyfriend). She’s aided by a character played by Thomas Haden Church, which should prove amusing.