Columns > Books

Sunday, March 20 2011

Banksy’s Bare Wit-ness

Like Aristophanes in Ancient Greece, Mark Twain in 19th century America, or Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes, Banksy’s visual humor chastises power in its multiple manifestations by hauling it before the court of public opinion for a well-deserved flogging.


Thursday, March 17 2011

Holy Ignorance: When Religion and Culture Part Ways

When halal turkeys sell for Thanksgiving, "Happy Holidays" drowns out "Merry Christmas", Easter egg hunts replace Mass celebrating the Resurrection, and sacred Catholic terms in Quebec serve only as swear words, culture has parted ways with religion.


Monday, March 14 2011

‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ at 34: Still Thrilling After All These Years

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

Strong and Soft Opinions: Tony Judt, Public and Private

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

Marxism: The Music Theory That Never Goes Out of Style

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

In the Oft-Reviled Genre of Memoirs, Here are Some Memoirs to Love

A subgenre has emerged that should placate memoirphobes and please memoirfiles: the artist-teacher memoir.


Tuesday, February 22 2011

The Librarians and Barbarians of Laura Bush’s Memoir

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

Noir Urbanisms: Dystopic Images of the Modern City

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

Across the Yucatán with a Ragtag Carny Crew

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

Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America

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 Rock? It’s a Black, Jewish, Southern Thang

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

Lynd Ward and Walt Disney: Illustrators of America’s Tumultuous History

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.


Walk This Way: The Commodification of Hip-Hop

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

Ammon Shea Is Not In the Phone Book, But He Read It, Cover to Cover

I’ve finally met somebody who possibly loves books more than I do, and certainly knows more about them.


Monday, January 31 2011

Que Pasa, New York?

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

A is for Axe: The Filmic Butchering of ‘The Scarlet Letter’

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

Lil’ Pookie’s America: Some Big Shoes to Fill

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

Can You Hear Me Now? The ‘Last Speakers’ Dilemma

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’ Is a Novel That Lives Up to Its Title

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

Birthered in the U.S.A.

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.


//Mixed media
//Blogs

Authenticity Issues and the New Intimacies

// Marginal Utility

"The social-media companies have largely succeeded in persuading users of their platforms' neutrality. What we fail to see is that these new identities are no less contingent and dictated to us then the ones circumscribed by tradition; only now the constraints are imposed by for-profit companies in explicit service of gain.

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