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Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

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Books

For Don DeLillo, 'The Silence' Is Deafening

In Don DeLillo's latest novel, The Silence, it is much like our post-pandemic life -- everything changed but nothing happened. Are we listening?

Books

'We're Not Here to Entertain' Is Not Here to Break the Cycle of Punk's Failures

Even as it irritates me, Kevin Mattson's We're Not Here to Entertain is worth reading because it has so much direct relevance to American punks operating today.

By the Book

The Story of Life in 10 1/2 Species (excerpt)

If an alien visitor were to collect ten souvenir life forms to represent life on earth, which would they be? This excerpt of Marianne Taylor's The Story of Life in 10 and a Half Species explores in text and photos the tiny but powerful earthling, the virus.

Marianne Taylor
Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

Books

On Bruce Springsteen's Music in Film and TV

Bruce Springsteen's music in film and television captured author Caroline Madden's imagination. She discuses her book, Springsteen as Soundtrack, and other things Springsteen in this interview.

By the Book

'Anti-vaxxers: How to Challenge a Misinformed Movement' (excerpt)

Jonathan M. Berman's Anti-vaxxers, argues that anti-vaccination activism is tied closely to how people see themselves as parents and community members. Effective pro-vaccination efforts should emphasize these cultural aspects.

Jonathan M. Berman
Books

Stanley Kubrick Biography Goes Beyond Rumors and Mystique

David Mikics casts Kubrick as a kind of modernist tragedian in this biography, showing how meticulous planning often gives way to vanity, error, or random chaos.

Books

UbuWeb's Kenneth Goldsmith Writes the Book on Internet Archiving

Kenneth Goldsmith's Duchamp Is My Lawyer, a tale of the creation and upkeep of the anti-internet internet, UbuWeb, is highly engaging and avoids the risk of ploughing down theoretical wormholes of limited interest.

Books

Comics Artists Yanow and  Hanawalt Draw Vastly Different Self-Portraits

Despite their considerable differences in genre, style, and character temperament, Sophie Yanow and Lisa Hanawalt explore the same inexplicable underworld of longing.

Books

Privacy and Alt-Right Transhumanism in Hari Kunzru's 'Red Pill'

Kunzru excels in capturing the geist in alt-right circles in his latest work, Red Pill, from the callous philosophy down to the very language.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

COVID-19 Is but One Indication of the Return of the Pandemic Monster

Mike Davis' COVID-era update about emerging flu pandemics, The Monster Enters, is concise, disturbing, and valuable.

Books

Joe Sacco's 'Paying the Land' Reflects Journalistic Nuance in a Way Other Media Does Not

The insights Joe Sacco shares in his comics journalism offer important lessons in understanding and compassion to readers around the world. No less so with his latest work, the excellent Paying the Land.

Books

'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.

Books

John Lewis, C.T. Vivian, and Their Fellow Freedom Riders Are Celebrated in 'Breach of Peace'

John Lewis and C.T. Vivian were titans of the Civil Rights struggle, but they are far from alone in fighting for change. Eric Etheridge's masterful then-and-now project, Breach of Peace, tells the stories of many of the Freedom Riders.

Reading Pandemics

Colonial Pandemics and Indigenous Futurism in Louise Erdrich and Gerald Vizenor

From a non-Native perspective, COVID-19 may be experienced as an unexpected and unprecedented catastrophe. Yet from a Native perspective, this current catastrophe links to a longer history that is synonymous with European colonization.

Books

Isabel Wilkerson's 'Caste' Reveals the Other Kind of American Exceptionalism

By comparing the American race-based class system to that of India and Nazi Germany, Isabel Wilkerson makes us see a familiar evil in a different light with her latest work, Caste.

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'Breathing Through the Wound' Will Leave You Gasping for Air

As dizzying as Víctor Del Árbol's philosophy of crime may appear, the layering of motifs in Breathing Through the Wound is vertiginous.

Books

Five Women Who Fought the Patriarchy

Whether one chooses to read Square Haunting for the sketches of the five fascinating women, or to understand how misogyny and patriarchy constricted intellectual and public life in the period, Francesca Wade's book is a superb achievement.

Reading Pandemics

Parable Pandemics: Octavia E. Butler and Racialized Labor

Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower, informed by a deep understanding of the intersectionality of dying ecologies, disease, and structural racism, exposes the ways capitalism's insatiable hunger for profit eclipses humanitarian responses to pandemics.

Reading Pandemics

Pandemic, Hope, Defiance, and Protest in 'Romeo and Juliet'

Shakespeare's well known romantic tale Romeo and Juliet, written during a pandemic, has a surprisingly hopeful message about defiance and protest.

Books

90 Years on 'Olivia' Remains a Classic of Lesbian Literature

It's good that we have our happy LGBTQ stories today, but it's also important to appreciate and understand the daunting depths of feeling that a love repressed can produce. In Dorothy Strachey's case, it produced the masterful Olivia.

Books

'No Modernism Without Lesbians'

Philosopher and historian Diana Souhami's No Modernism Without Lesbians is a work of impeccable scholarship and a vibrant narrative about the essential and lasting philanthropy and patronage of the Arts by four remarkable lesbians.

Books

'Conjure Women' Brings Forth Racism and Reproductive Rights

It is Afia Atakora's reiteration of the current calls for racial justice that positions Conjure Women as an unadulterated masterpiece.

Reading Pandemics

Parallels of HIV/AIDS in Tony Kushner's 'Angels in America' and COVID-19 in Trump's America

Tony Kushner's Angels in America foreshadows our current state of sick politics and bodies and, in particular, the presence of Trump in a time of plague.

Books

Unorthodox Storytelling

Deborah Feldman's memoir, Unorthodox, is more than a depiction, or even indictment, of the Satmar. It's an indictment of any patriarchal social system that shrinks young women's dreams to the size of a kitchen, and then blames them for it.

Books

'Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier'

The comics format of Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks' Astronauts is ideally suited for telling the story of how women fought and overcame sexism in the US Space Program, given the US government and military's ridiculous resistance to female astronauts.

By the Book

The Art of Advertising (excerpt)

The Art of Advertising invites us to consider both the intended and unintended messages of the advertisements of the past.

Julie Anne Lambert
Reading Pandemics

Cookbooks and Contagion: Recipes for Caring from Fannie Farmer

Cookbooks are rarely read as political or even narrative texts. However, alongside the recipes and lists of ingredients is often rich information about the ideologies and social structures that the foods are consumed within.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Life Isn't Binary and Neither Is the Coronavirus Pandemic

Non-binary thinking offers new routes for adapting to life with COVID-19.

Books

Looking for the Next Best Version of America? Abrams Wrote the Book on How to Achieve It

"Try this at home": With her latest work, Our Time Is Now, Plotter-in-Chief Stacey Abrams offers a timely playbook for how to ensure free and fair elections in America.

Books

Music and Mind-Bending in David Mitchell's 'Utopia Avenue'

Woven into Utopia Avenue David Mitchell stitches a subtle critique of the impacts of the pot-heavy, lysergic-immersed, and heady music's ambitions on pop culture, moral choices, and even tripping itself.

Books

Lerone Bennett, Jr. Wrote Black History into Modern America at Ebony Magazine

E. James West's new book explores Lerone Bennett, Jr.'s impact as a popular Black historian. It's a gateway to a body of work that still speaks to Black rage, struggle and hope, yesterday and today.

Reading Pandemics

Pandemic from the Janitor's Point of View

Timothy Sheard's murder mystery One Foot in the Grave explores pandemic in a hospital from the point of view of the lowliest, aka "essential", staff.

Books

'The Kill Chain': Why America Might Lose Its Next Big War

Christian Brose's defense-nerd position paper, The Kill Chain, inadvertently reveals that the Pentagon's problems (complacency, inertia, arrogance) reflect those of the country at large.

Books

'Lie With Me': Beauty, Love and Toxic Masculinity in the Gay '80s

How do we write about repression and toxic masculinity without valorizing it? Philippe Besson's Lie With Me is equal parts poignant tribute and glaring warning.

Reading Pandemics

Chaucer's Plague Tales

In 18 months, the "Great Pestilence" of 1348-49 killed half of England's population, and by 1351 half the population of the world. Chaucer's plague tales reveal the conservative edges of an astonishingly innovative medieval poet.


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