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Tuesday, November 6 2012

Claire Vaye Watkins Walks the Tightrope Between Chaos and Control

Claire Vaye Watkins' first short story collection, Battleborn is winning well-deserved rave reviews. Here, she discusses monkeys in chinaberry trees, Yo La Tengo, and what it's like to be a putter-inner.


Sunday, November 4 2012

Michael Chabon Grows Up with ‘Telegraph Avenue’

Michael Chabon writes with empathy, with earnest reflection and self-consciousness, pervaded by sepia-daubed nostalgia.


Tuesday, October 30 2012

In Defense Of ... The Marriage Between Music and Television

One wonders if Elvis, the Beatles, the Who, et. al. would have gained such importance had TV not been available. Those hips wouldn't have been so polarizing, those haircuts wouldn't have been so cutting edge...


‘Something Wicked this Way Comes’ Is Both Creepy and Confused

Is Ray Bradbury's classic a horror film? Well, not exactly. Is it a family film? Nah, it has too many genuine scares for the kiddies. Is it perfect for Halloween? Well, Mr. Dark is delightfully wicked...


Sunday, October 28 2012

The Last Witch Hunt: The Legacy of the West Memphis Three

Teenage outcasts often feel like the world is against them; in 1994, three adolescents in West Memphis, Arkansas, experienced proof that it actually was. Now, despite being freed after 18 years of wrongful imprisonment, the battle of the West Memphis Three is not concluded.


Wednesday, October 24 2012

In Praise of Black Minstrelsy’s Happy Darkies on Parade

Is black minstrelsy a celebration of noxious stereotypes or an important part of American culture? Or both?


Wednesday, October 10 2012

Woe is Us: ‘What’s the Matter with White People?’

Salon editor Joan Walsh’s half-brilliant and half-confused memoir / manifesto posits that many white Americans have historically taken out their frustration over declining opportunities on minorities … and Democrats.


Tuesday, October 9 2012

Occupy Literature: New York from Melville to the Beats

Before Occupy Wall Street rattled the money merchants, Herman Melville and the Beats shook the city's foundation with gumption and glee.


Monday, October 1 2012

Waves of Grain: How World War II Created Our World

World War II changed the way we eat, live and work on such a fundamental scale that to those in the West it seems like there has never been anything other than the globalized world it created.


Wednesday, September 19 2012

Bounce and Go-Go: It’s Not Where You’re At, It’s Where You Are

So expressly "chocolate city", go-go is part art form, part entertainment, and part Washington, D.C. civic totem pole; heading south, bounce is a distinctly and defiantly New Orleansian spin on an established rap genre.


Tuesday, September 18 2012

Ethnographies of the Hipster: Miranda July’s ‘The Future’ and ‘It Chooses You’

It Chooses You provides a sketch of the deluxe hipster, one who hardly knows what to make of the poor, the underprivileged, the recently incarcerated, and others who are just plain weird, as opposed to quirky.


Thursday, September 13 2012

Daniel Clowes’ Cranky, Comical World

Some of Daniel Clowes’ exaggerated bitterness about his vocation comes from a willingness to see himself as just as ridiculous as the characters he gets paid to doodle. But he also harbors a deep disillusionment with art itself.


Sunday, September 9 2012

Endless Nights and Savage Angels: Henry James and Walt Whitman’s New York Cityscapes

New York is a symbol that claws its way into the core of stories. It's never just a set piece, never just a grid of architecture. It's a city of multitudes, madness, and muddied values.


Thursday, August 23 2012

Putting the Bite Back into Snow White with ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’

After some bland remakes of this classic fairytale, it's nice to see the poison put back into Snow White's apple.


Sunday, August 5 2012

Standing at the Edge of a Cliff: China in Two Books

Like the scene in romantic movies where two lovers see each other from across a crowded room and begin running towards one another, culturally the US seems to be rushing towards China as fast as China is rushing towards the US.


Thursday, July 26 2012

Tears in Rain: ‘Blade Runner’ and Philip K. Dick’s Legacy in Film

Thirty years after the release of Blade Runner, with a remake of Total Recall on the horizon, the work of Philip K. Dick continues to find its way into our cinemas and minds. How did the visions of a paranoid loner become the most relevant science fiction of our time?


Monday, June 25 2012

What It Means to Be Human: ‘Never Let Me Go’’

The film, Never Let Me Go, follows the book relatively well, although it eliminates some of the story, and isn't able to mirror the novel's careful and timed revelations about the mystery of Hailsham's students.


Thursday, June 21 2012

The Politics of American Perceptions

If Republicans and Democrats were in a street fight, who would win? Beyond Red and Blue is the rare book that gracefully helps you see the legitimacy of the other side of your sacred political beliefs.


Tuesday, June 19 2012

An Early Moan from the Great Moaner: Jack Kerouac’s ‘The Sea Is My Brother’

Jack Kerouac’s greatest achievement is the creation of the most compassionate of 20th century literatures; not just the adolescent fraternalisms or calls for equality, but the glee of rushing down the mountain with the good news, or as the good news, curious about humanity, forgiving, ready to report well and true.


Wednesday, June 13 2012

Post-Black, Post-Racial… Post-Trayvon

The sense that a cohesion of group identity was no longer a defining factor of black life had taken a firm hold in America. Then Trayvon Martin was killed.


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