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Sunday, May 2 2010

The Pope of Satire

Judging from the worried silence that met Stephen Colbert’s satirical comments about the current president, it seems he stepped over the line from his trademark truthiness that entertains to plain-old truth (or perhaps taboo) that his audience did not want to hear. As comedy routines go, this one died fast.


Sunday, April 25 2010

Cracking the Spine: The Lovely Bones

The author's 'heaven' is a concrete and unexpected place with"lumbering women throwing shot put and javelin"; whereas the filmmaker's interpretation changes 'heaven' to something like a garish, 3-D Hallmark card.


Thursday, April 22 2010

Neurocriticism and Neurocapitalism

The cutting-edge of literary studies uses brain scans and evolutionary psychology to fashion a science of reading, but these techniques have already been at work crafting the latest and most invasive phase of capitalism.


Tuesday, April 20 2010

Isn’t This Where We Came In?

Have you ever combined the first and last sentence of a novel or a song? The results are often amusing, and sometimes revelatory.


Sunday, April 18 2010

Greil Marcus on Van Morrison: When That Rough God Goes Riding

This is the story of a burly monk in shades, of flesh chasing the divine, of a voice ecstatic in southern blues and gospel and Celtic mysticism.


Thursday, April 15 2010

Backyard Fiction a.k.a. the Great American Myth of Suburbia

Suburban discontent in Richard Yates' Revolutionary Road, John Updike's Couples and Richard Ford's Independence Day. The idea or myth of suburbia is just as real as the actual shopping centers, schools, etc.


Thursday, April 8 2010

Hellraisers: They Lived This Way Because Nobody Else Could

These guys were geniuses at life: living fully on their own terms, and after all the broken glass, bludgeoned livers, and wrecked relationships, the sum shined brighter than the scattered bits and pieces.


Sunday, April 4 2010

My Times in Black and White

Gerald Boyd's memoir illustrates that sometimes, those who preach the loudest about diversity and tolerance are in fact the least capable, when it comes down to it, of tolerating any diversity at all.


Thursday, April 1 2010

Harry Smith: The Avant-Garde in the American Vernacular

This book comes very close to being a faithful mirror of the endlessly fascinating Harry Smith and, like its subject, will provoke, educate, and entertain in equal measure.


Monday, March 22 2010

You Couldn’t Ignore Me If You Tried, by Susannah Gora

This book is part cultural analysis of ‘80s youth films, part trivia, and whole bunch walk down memory lane.


Thursday, March 18 2010

Six Years in the Life of Post-Blackness (Or Not)

If the 'black' in 'post-black' means “the last 40 years or so”, black folks are clearly moving beyond that; but to the extent that 'black' means “having to deal with the same-old same-old when it comes to racial attitudes,” then we ain’t post-nuthin’.


Monday, March 15 2010

Last Words by George Carlin with Tony Hendra

Part raucous credo, part comic pilgrim’s progress, this is George Carlin’s celebration of his own human condition and how he became not just a comedian, but a conscience.


Thursday, March 11 2010

Tupac Shakur: An Icon in Context

How do you tell the story of Tupac Shakur? One book tries connecting his life, and sometimes his music, to the social and historical climate of the times.


Tuesday, March 9 2010

Creator: Various

In comics not everyone can write nor draw (nor ink, color nor letter). So, there will always be 'great' works that cannot be attributed to a single talented contributor.


Sunday, March 7 2010

The German Issue: Still Straddling the Berlin Wall

The German Issue provides us with a time capsule from a very different era, but so much of its content remains pertinent.


Monday, March 1 2010

Raymond Carver: A Writer’s Life

We so want our geniuses to be perfect people. Or at least nice people -- and so often they aren’t.


Thursday, February 25 2010

Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places

Sociologist Sharon Zukin looks at the forces at play in some of the cooler neighborhoods of New York in this update of Jane Jacobs and the principles of urban revitalization for the 21st century.


Wednesday, February 24 2010

A Common Pornography

As in any existence, there are themes that become fully apparent only in retrospect; in Sampsell’s case, as with most of us, these overwhelming but at first hard-to-discern influences are embodied in family.


Tuesday, February 23 2010

Übermensch and Übermonk

Adrian Monk is slave to his obsessions, but he’s the master of his self. He's possibly even the master of the future of humanity.


Monday, February 22 2010

Chéri: Out of the Boudoir

Frears and Hampton puts the viewer into Chéri in a very real and sensual manner, paying homage to Collette's luxuriant corporeal details.


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