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Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.

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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?

Film

Paul Leni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Leni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Film

Buster Keaton's Last Silent Masterpieces: 'The Cameraman' and 'Spite Marriage'

Buster Keaton was aware that the camera can be a catalyst of violence, especially stereotypical violence, for audience consumption -- and that it could also evoke the shared joy of cathartic laughter.

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.

Film

Serene Ambiguities in Abbas Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry

So much of Abbas Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry feels relevant to the 2020 experience, in which small distances have never felt greater.

Books

'The Art of Drag' Captivates and Unites

Like a properly tightened corset, the total effect of The Art of Drag lends a stunning shape to the art forms in question.

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.

Film

'The Lady Eve' Indulges Preston Sturges' Humor, Both Literate and Broad

Preston Sturges' The Lady Eve is layered with texture and substance draped in the gleeful prurience of a master of slapstick and romance who could write foolish millionaires with the same deft ear as cultured hooligans.

Books

Manga 'The Sky Is Blue with a Single Cloud' Is a Superb Collection of Kuniko Tsurita's Works

The late manga artist Kuniko Tsurita's works virtually demand repeat readings: initially cryptic, always compelling, inviting the reader to try again, and offering new suggestions and meanings with each read.

Books

Zadie Smith's 'Intimations' Essays Pandemic With Erudite Wit and Compassion

Zadie Smith's Intimations is an essay collection of gleaming, wry, and crisp prose that wears its erudition lightly but takes flight on both everyday and lofty matters.

Film

Apocalypse '45 Uses Gloriously Restored Footage to Reveal the Ugliest Side of Our Nature

Erik Nelson's gorgeously restored Pacific War color footage in Apocalypse '45 makes a dramatic backdrop for his revealing interviews with veterans who survived the brutality of "a war without mercy".

Books

Graphic Novel 'Cuisine Chinoise' Is a Feast for the Eyes and the Mind

Lush art and dark, cryptic fables permeate Zao Dao's stunning graphic novel, Cuisine Chinoise.

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.

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.

Film

The Conception of Morality in Éric Rohmer's 'Six Moral Tales'

Éric Rohmer isn't interested in a pure critique of misogyny; his moral tales are mere observations on how we use other people to serve our interests and how we invent narratives from our relationships through which we define ourselves.

Film

Laurel & Hardy's Genius of Everyday Chaos

The opposite of the idealized embodiments of masculinity seen in male cinema heroes Hapless Man-children Laurel & Hardy are creatures of the id.

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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.

Books

Ivy Mix's 'Spirits of Latin America' Evokes the Ancestors

A common thread unites Ivy Mix's engaging Spirits of Latin America; "the chaotic intermixture between indigenous and European traditions" is still an inextricable facet of life for everyone who inhabits the "New World".

Film

Creative Disruption in 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire'

Portrait of a Lady on Fire yearns to burn tyrannical gendered tradition to ash and remake it into something collaborative and egalitarian.

Books

Fleetwood Dissects the European Mindset in His Moody, Disturbing Thriller, 'A Young Fair God'

Hugh Fleetwood's difficult though absorbing A Young Fair God offers readers a look into the age-old world views that have established and perpetuated cultural rank and the social attitudes that continue to divide us wherever we may reside in the world.

Books

'Dancing After TEN' Graphic Memoir Will Move You

Art dances with loss in the moving double-memoir by comics artists Vivian Chong and Georgia Webber, Dancing After TEN.

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

Weng Pixin's 'Sweet Time' Elevates the Art in Comics Art

Weng Pixin is an artist who happens to be working in the comics form.

Books

Jaki Shelton Green Blends Poetry and Protest on Timely 'The River Speaks of Thirst'

Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green's The River Speaks of Thirst is at once a political statement, cultural commentary, and an aesthetic milestone, a skillful commingling of galvanic activism and evocative poetry.

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

'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.

Books

How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.

Books

Claude McKay's 'Romance in Marseille' Is Ahead of Its Time

Claude McKay's Romance in Marseille -- only recently published -- pushes boundaries on sexuality, disability, identity -- all in gorgeous poetic prose.

Books

The Kinks and Their Bad-Mannered English Decency

Mark Doyles biography of the Kinks might complement a seminar in British culture. Its tone and research prove its intent to articulate social critique through music for the masses.

Books

'Spring Rain' Is a Superb Graphic Memoir of the Vagaries of Mind and Memory

Andy Warner's style of narrative in Spring Rain is evocative of those visual puzzles that require the viewer to look beyond the image in front of them, letting their eyes relax into an indirect gaze, in order for the hidden picture to reveal itself.

Film

'The Grand Budapest Hotel' Gorgeously Conveys Our Need for Poise and Elegance

The sense of artifice in Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel helped him create an alluring reverie of both color and meaning.

Film

Stepping into the Phantasmagoric Otherwise with Karel Zeman

While all films project a world that might be, certain films and certain filmmakers, like Karel Zeman, come closer than others in bringing to the surface the underlying phantasmagoric essence of cinema.


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