From David Foster Wallace, “The Pale King”

This remains largely theory, but my best guess as to [my dad’s] never dispensing wisdom like other dads is that my father understood that advice — even wise advice — actually does nothing for the advisee, changes nothing inside, and can actually cause confusion when the advisee is made to feel the wide gap between the comparative simplicity of the advice and the totally muddled complication of his own situation and path. I’m not putting this very well. If you begin to get the idea that other peop … [Read more...]

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From Fyodor Dostoyevsky, “The Idiot”

tr Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky--letter written by a terminally-ill teenager, so Dostoyevsky is fully on-trend: First of all, there is a strange thought here: who, in the name of what right, in the name of what motive, would now take it into his head to dispute my right to these two or three weeks of my term? What court has any business here? Who precisely needs that I should not only be sentenced, but should graciously keep to the term of my sentence? Can it really be that anyone … [Read more...]

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“The Quiet Rebels of Russian Translation”: An Interview with Pevear and Volokhonsky

at LitHub:VOLOKHONSKY Yes. We had yet another critic, at the very beginning, an old Russian émigré lady. When we first told her we were translating The Brothers Karamazov, she said, Oh, Dostoevsky, I hope you correct his awful style. I said, No, that is precisely what we’re going to keep. more … [Read more...]

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Feeling Better: I review “Inside Out”

for AmCon: Pixar’s “Inside Out” is a charming, vividly-imagined film with terrific comic timing. Its insights are sharp and its message accurate. So why was I the only person in the theater who didn’t sniffle?“Inside Out” takes us into the brain of Riley, a buoyantly happy 11-year-old girl about to face her first major life challenge: a move from Minnesota to San Francisco. We see the world inside her head, including a control room operated by her emotions. Joy (Amy Poehler) is in charge, a … [Read more...]

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“Lava” in the Western World: Justice Kennedy and Pixar

Yesterday afternoon I watched Inside Out. You'll get more from me about that later, but for right now I want to write a bit about "Lava," the short, and the weird coincidence that I saw it on the day of the Supreme Court's gay marriage decision.Aesthetically "Lava" is a mixed bag--or rather, a bag with one great thing and one awful thing in it. The designs for the two volcanic main characters are charming, lovely, and just weird enough. But the short tells a simple story--it could easily … [Read more...]

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“The Truth Without Reconciliation Committee”: I review “The Look of Silence”

for AmCon: For the extraordinary 2012 documentary “The Act of Killing“, filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer encouraged participants in the Indonesian death-squad killings of 1965 to reenact their murders of suspected or fabricated Communists. The killers, who have reaped material and political success from their violence, were for the most part happy to oblige. Their reenactments became increasingly baroque and Hollywoodized; they expressed the self-image which made them feel powerful and free, and all … [Read more...]

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“Population: 1,” A Punk History of the Late, Great USA

"If you don't remember the 80s, just imagine listening to Duran Duran's 'Hungry Like the Wolf' playing on a boom box that at any moment could explode, killing you and everyone you know."Population: 1 opens with basically a music video, in which a snaggle-toothed chanteuse wonders why nobody loves her, and then dies on a riverbank. She's glorious--just enough menace, just enough shriek--but what actually is going on here? We cut to an underground bunker where a scrawny degenerate is watching … [Read more...]

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