Monday, March 14 2011
What makes Close Encounters of the Third Kind stand out to this day is that it isn’t the usual UFO tale of “us vs them”, like Spielberg’s later remake of War of the Worlds; rather, it's very much a story about Earthlings.
Thursday, March 10 2011
Like J.M. Coetzee's Diary of a Bad Year, Ill Fares the Land and The Memory Chalet reveal the diverse cross-pollination of public and private speech. Ill Fares the Land ostensibly contains the strong opinions, The Memory Chalet the "soft" opinions.
Tuesday, March 1 2011
How fitting that a post-punk band from the late '70s, fascinated by the Marxist metaphysics of modernity, would re-emerge to remind us that nothing new has happened in rock in decades. Of course Thom Yorke might disagree...
Wednesday, February 23 2011
A subgenre has emerged that should placate memoirphobes and please memoirfiles: the artist-teacher memoir.
Tuesday, February 22 2011
Laura Bush largely avoided the public slanderings that Nancy Reagan endured and that, to a lesser extent, Michelle Obama is now enduring, even though George W. Bush himself was perhaps the most excoriated President in recent American history. The reasons have something to do with Laura Bush's literary sensibility.
Thursday, February 17 2011
The essays included in this fine, wide-ranging, thought-provoking volume take pains to remind the reader how every instance of urban dystopia – whether in Mexico, India, Africa or the United States – is shadowed by the particular history and legacy of its geography, culture, and society.
Wednesday, February 16 2011
A Mexican dispatch, by the sea and on the road with students, musicians, actors, wild children, and juggling LSD dealers. On the backpacker trail from Cancún to Mérida, we discovered we were not the only ones on a global prowl.
Monday, February 14 2011
While Disintegration contains its share of frank, bracing, straight talk that dispels long-held notions about black Americans, one of Eugene Robinson’s underlying assumptions — that America persists in seeing black people as an experiential monolith — is not the defining absolute it used to be.
Sunday, February 13 2011
Punk is no vacuum, no airtight, sealed white music form. It's a repository of culture -- magnetized, manifold, and chock-full of merit – that was, and is, impacted by Jewish, black, and Southern experiences.
Thursday, February 3 2011
Much as Walt Disney would do with his famed television programs of the '50s and '60s, Lynd Ward used his talents with watercolor, oil, brush and ink, mezzotint, and lithography to illustrate hundreds of inspiring historical biographies of true-life American heroes for children to admire and emulate.
Now here's a little story, we've got to tell, about the business of hip-hop, you know so well. It started way back in history, from Alexander Hamilton down to Jay-Z.
Tuesday, February 1 2011
I’ve finally met somebody who possibly loves books more than I do, and certainly knows more about them.
Monday, January 31 2011
How do artists get their work done in other cities of the world? Where is it viable to live? It's probably silly to begin our investigation in New York. Just 30 years ago, New York was still opening its arms to the tired, poor, huddled masses of creatives. But now?
Sunday, January 23 2011
As is often the case with classics, what could have been a brilliantly updated film adaptation of The Scarlet Letter was consumed by the Hollywood machine that instead spits out a shallow and action-packed romp with a glossed-over ending.
Thursday, January 13 2011
How can a kid from the 'hood today measure up to the likes of Duke Ellington? or Hank Aaron? A mythical boy from the 'hood meets these major black American figures through three recent books: 'Duke Ellington's America', 'The Last Hero' and 'Willie Mays'.
Wednesday, January 12 2011
People, places, and languages of our recent past are replaced by strip malls where Chinese porn store and Indian restaurant owners speak fluid Spanish, and Ethiopian-slash-Italian restaurants thrive next to Honduran and Venezuelan hot spots.
Tuesday, January 11 2011
The Sentimentalists has all of the hallmarks of a book published in Canada circa 1972, full of purple prose, a seemingly anti-American tract, and a classic rural setting, aka: Can-Lit.
Sunday, January 9 2011
Every time Anderson Cooper cornered Leo Berman on his refusal to accept the abundant evidence about Obama’s Hawaiian birth, Berman changed the subject—right back to his original, hopeless claim.
Monday, January 3 2011
He's got 99 problems but a book ain't one. Jay-Z's nonlinear memoir illuminates rap as personal narrative, lyric poetry, and transformative medium.
Thursday, December 23 2010
Marcus Gray's book about London Calling inspires a journey around the London of the Clash. There's a huge sense of disaffection in this city, a feeling that the government protects only the rich and will leave the poor to suffer the recession – it’s like 1979 all over again, and London is still calling, calling out into an atmosphere of impending catastrophe.