Prison Photography: Texas in the ’60s, Italian Theater Performers, More

Clara Vannucci: “Why should I run? Where would I go? Twenty years I’ve lived in prison. Now I have something to live for. Life has meaning.” This was the unexpected and humbling response Vannucci received when she asked a prison inmate of Italy’s notorious Volterra Prison and touring theatre actor why he did not try to escape when he had so many opportunities to do so.In 1998, Armando Punzo established the Compagnia della Fortezza, a theatre troupe comprised of dangerous felons and hardcor … [Read more...]

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“Amends,” My Novel About Reality-TV Rehab, Is Available in Paperback

now! A month in rehab would be stressful enough without a television audience. When the ramshackle cast checks in for "Amends," a new reality series about alcoholism and recovery, they don't know if they've been cast as villains or potential redemption arcs. Over the course of the show they learn what God sees when he shuts his eyes, how to appreciate the comforts of hallucination, and what it looks like when a wolf fights a troll. A conservative journalist woos a homeless Ethiopian visionary. … [Read more...]

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“Our Stories”: I’m at Spiritual Friendship

& I need your help! When I was in high school I spent just hours upon hours trying to suss out gay subtext in novels, songs, poetry. I longed for that moment of recognition: the moment when you realize that someone else has put into words and images something you have felt but never understood. It was so frustrating when somebody would slur through a pronoun (is that, “Was a lover, and his last”?) or skitter away from a revealing turn of phrase. And it was so thrilling when somebody–usually … [Read more...]

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St Petersburg Graffiti: Gagarin’s Pascha

Powerful. Via IP. … [Read more...]

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I Review “Russian Modernism: 1907 – 1917”

for AmCon: The first room of the Neue Galerie’s “Russian Modernism: Cross-Currents of German and Russian Art, 1907 – 1917” (on view through August 24), takes us back to a vanished world. This is a world of silk stockings and fiacres, cavalry officers, and the Woman Question: the modern world. It’s a cosmopolitan world, alive to the distortions of human perception, and an international world in which Russian artists looked West and Western artists looked to Africa for inspiration. It will not las … [Read more...]

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“How This Tree Growing 40 Different Fruits at Once Was Made”: io9

overlooks the obvious explanation: This tree growing 40 different types of fruit—including varieties of peaches, plums, apricots, and almonds—may look like something plucked straight from the imagination, but it’s very real. And this is how it was made. witchcraft (gorgeous photo though!!) … [Read more...]

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A Vindication of the Rites of Whores: Rumer Godden’s “Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy”

When I asked people to recommend books about life in religious communities, this (as well as Godden's In This House of Brede) was one of the most frequent responses. It's a story set among the Dominican Sisters of Bethany, whose charism involves prison ministry--and so many of the sisters are themselves former criminals, what we'd call "ex-offenders" or "returning citizens." These are I think the same nuns you see in Robert Bresson's terrific nun-noir The Angels of Sin. (This is the Bresson for … [Read more...]

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