Beacon quick picks

by Alexandra Leach

DAVE EGGERS; WHAT IS THE WHAT; AVAILABLE NOW

Dave Eggers’ latest, What is the What, is a moving, fictionalized memoir that centers around real-life Sudanese refugee Valentino Achak Deng and his struggle to find himself and his home.,LITERATURE

by Alexandra Leach

DAVE EGGERS; WHAT IS THE WHAT; AVAILABLE NOW

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Dave Eggers’ latest, What is the What, is a moving, fictionalized memoir that centers around real-life Sudanese refugee Valentino Achak Deng and his struggle to find himself and his home. After escaping the horrors of the Sudanese civil war, Valentino joins up with a small army of “Lost Boys” while piecing his life back together. The hero eventually gets to America, but Valentino still does not acquire the safety and security he seeks as he settles into a dangerous Atlanta neighborhood. Eggers, the author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, has done it again with this beautiful tale.

JOHN MOE; CONSERVATIZE ME; AVAILABLE NOW

Wonder what it’d be like to dismiss all of your liberal beliefs and try being conservative for a month? This is exactly what John Moe does in his new book Conservatize Me: How I Tried to Become a Righty with the Help of Richard Nixon, Sean Hannity, Toby Keith and Beef Jerky. Moe’s stories vary in quality as he takes shots at everything Republican, from country music to fundamentalist Christianity. Some of the author’s interactions with conservatives are interesting and others, like his attempts to argue with the Family Research Council, fall flat. Moe’s eyes are opened in this uneven book, but it’s doubtful that yours will be too.

FILM

by Shuchi Saraswat

HAPPY FEET; IN THEATRES TOMORROW

Elijah Wood, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Brittany Murphy and Robin Williams. Phew! Too bad the trailer is only slightly amusing. But penguins-love ’em! Happy movie during the holidays-great! The return of Williams as an animated voice-even better! But what is with the song and dance routine? The preview says it all, folks. It’s going to be penguins singing and dancing for a good 72 minutes. The movie may ring in the holiday with cheer, but it’s a waste of $10 to see it in theatres.

LET’S GO TO PRISON; IN THEATRES TOMORROW

Nelson Biederman IV (played by Will Arnett from “Arrested Development”) is an uptight buffoon who gets thrown into prison. John Lyshitski (Dax Shepard) is a career criminal. “If I had a nickel for every time I was incarcerated, I’d have fifteen cents,” Lyshitski casually points out when discussing his childhood. What progresses is a series of uncomfortable (for Nelson) and hilarious (for audiences) encounters with fellow prison mates. Overshadowed this week by a group of long-awaited releases (Fast Food Nation, Casino Royale), this comedic look at life behind bars is the right movie to go to if you’re looking for a few light-hearted laughs.

MUSIC

by Jon Gabso

SUFJAN STEVENS; SONGS FOR CHRISTMAS, AVAILABLE NOV. 21

The concept of a five-disc Sufjan Christmas collection might seem ridiculous to fans, especially those who remember his aspiration to make an album for each of the 50 states, but at least this new project proves he hasn’t lost his characteristic charm. Stevens’ usual mix of banjoes, chimes and luminous tones combine on classics like “Silent Night” and “Jingle Bells,” and on fascinating originals like “Come on! Let’s Boogey to the Elf Dance!” and “Get Behind Me, Santa!” This is cool and all, but someone needs to remind him that he’s got 48 states to make records for.

SWAN LAKE; BEAST MOANS; AVAILABLE NOV. 21

Canadian indie supergroups become a sort of paradox with the arrival of the long-awaited debut album from Swan Lake. Spencer Krug and Carey Mercer from Frog Eyes are both members of Swan Lake; Krug is best known, however, for his role as the frontman of Wolf Parade and Sunset Rubdown. Additionally, the third Swan Lake member, Destroyer mastermind Dan Bejar, has been an integral songwriter/guitarist for Canadian supergroup du jour The New Pornographers. Basically, Beast Moans is perfect for fans of indie rock from our neighbors up north.

DVD

by Lynda Seumo

AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH; AVAILABLE NOV. 21

For those who conveniently missed this movie over the summer because of your own environmental and political stance on global warming, here’s a chance to finally watch the damn thing. Do yourself (and those who have to share the remainder of Earth with you) a favor and educate yourself. Regardless of what your views are on Al Gore and the fact that the movie is basically a PowerPoint presentation, retain the essential information: the world is our home and we should hasten our efforts to keep it that way. There’s still a chance to see it on the big screen. Earth Emerson is hosting a free screening today at 6 p.m. at AMC Loews Boston Common.

ICE AGE: THE MELTDOWN; AVAILABLE NOV. 21

The sequel to 2002’s Ice Age reunites us with Manny the woolly mammoth, Sid the sloth, Diego the sabre-tooth tiger, and Manny’s love interest, Ellie, a female mammoth. Love interest? That’s right, kids, this one has some romance. The characters are plagued with the discovery that the ice wall surrounding the valley where they live is melting-which wouldn’t be a problem if the ice weren’t holding back an immense body of water that is about to flood their habitat. The original trio, with Ellie in tow, goes on a journey to find the only chance for survival: a boat on the other side of the valley. Filled with humor and brilliant animation, this one is for all ages, including college students.