Until his early 20s, the only life Shin Dong-hyuk had ever known was one of constant beatings, near starvation and snitching on others to survive. Born into one of the worst of North Korea's system of prison camps, Shin was doomed to a life of hard labor and an early death. Notions of love and family were meaningless: He saw his mother as a competitor for food.
For the second time in two weeks, a film that concerns itself with kid-on-kid violence arrives at the multiplex amid a firestorm of audience-generated, studio-fanned social-media interest.
Last week, The Hunger Games rode enthusiasm for Suzanne Collins' young-adult novels and a carefully orchestrated PR campaign to the best opening weekend of the year. Now comes the documentary Bully, director Lee Hirsch's sensitive look at anguished kids who've been cruelly targeted by their peers — which isn't going to do anything remotely like that kind of box-office.
The memorials for the poet Adrienne Rich, who died Tuesday, will include plenty of references to her feminism, her sometimes polemical leftism, her precocity, her difficult marriage (her husband killed himself in 1970), her subsequent partnership with the writer Michelle Cliff, and the books — beginning with 1963's Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law — that made her internationally famous. What can get a bit lost in all this, however, are the poems themselves.
From a young age, Fletcher Wortmann spent countless hours absorbed by his obsessions. In third grade, he became consumed with the idea that every nonwater substance on the planet would soon freeze. He spent hours laying plans for how he and his family would survive. Over and over, he replayed an imagined apocalypse.
Though he wouldn't be diagnosed until many years later, in retrospect Wortmann realizes the episode marked his "first full-blown bout" with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Nineteen years after Anne Lamott gave birth to the child she wanted desperately enough to become a single mother, her son, Sam, called with the news that he and his 20-year-old on-again-off-again girlfriend were expecting. "They're both a little young, but who asked me?" Lamott writes, setting the self-deprecating tone for Some Assembly Required.