“Marilynne Robinson Returns to Gilead”: I review “Lila”

at AmCon--I think this piece turned out well: Ten years ago Marilynne Robinson began telling us the story of Gilead, Iowa, a tiny town surrounded by fields and farms. A droplet of water in which the whole world is reflected.She began with Gilead, a novel in the form of a long letter written from the dying John Ames to his young son. Ames situates the town in its historical context, showing how this apparently all-white enclave nonetheless falls under the shadow of racism, from the Civil War … [Read more...]

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Kickstarter to Restore Pioneering African-American Cinema

Looks stellar. From Kino Lorber: Among the most fascinating chapters of film history is that of the so-called “race films” that flourished in the 1920s - ‘40s. Unlike the “black cast” films produced within the Hollywood studio (such as Stormy Weather or Green Pastures), these films not only starred African Americans but were funded, written, produced, directed, distributed, and often exhibited by people of color. Entrepreneurial filmmakers such as Oscar Micheaux,  Spencer Williams, and Richard D … [Read more...]

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Kristin Lavransdatter as “The Great Augustinian Novel”

ooh: I’ve always thought of Kristin Lavransdatter as “the great Augustinian novel.” I’ve never read anything that conveyed more powerfully the Augustinian sense of lives that are fragmentary and damaged, which we can’t hold together in any rounded meaningful whole, but must entrust to a grace which is slowly drawing them into a pattern that we can’t see much of yet and won’t in this life.from an email from a friend via … [Read more...]

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“Chthonic,” “Miasma”: David Bowie Answers the Proust Questionnaire

and it goes about how you'd imagine it would: Which living person do you most admire? Elvis.Who are your heroes in real life? The consumer.What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? While in New York, tolerance. Outside New York, intolerance.What is the trait you most deplore in others? Talent. more … [Read more...]

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“Singing Gospel, Growing Up Gay”: I review “Choir Boy”

at Studio Theater: “Choir Boy” is about the struggles of a gay teen coming of age in a black, Christian prep school for boys; but it’s also about the complex interweaving of religion, ambition, and emotion. In Studio’s staging it’s almost entirely effective. This story could easily be melodramatic—McCraney makes several heavy-handed choices in terms of character development and dialogue—but the committed actors and stylized use of singing give it an emotional power which carries it over its occa … [Read more...]

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Me on “Marta Oulie,” Sigrid Undset’s First Published Novel

at the University Bookman: Marta Oulie opens with the confession, “I have been unfaithful to my husband.” So it comes as no surprise that the novel depicts a woman’s sexual awakening: the obsessive thoughts of him, the thrill at his touch. “I suddenly felt scared and didn’t dare look at the scrap of chest visible below his throat, but then couldn’t resist glancing at it.”What might be more surprising is that this is the sensual passion of a virgin for the man who will become her husband. Lik … [Read more...]

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You Do Realize, This Means Waugh: Four Small Thoughts on Gay Catholic Whatnot

If I were clickbaitier these would all have their own very short post. YOU'RE WELCOME. Anyway, various things I thought about while on the road, bookhawkin'.1. Remember my whole "we aren't trying to solve problems; we're trying to replace less-Christian problems with more-Christian problems" shtik? This is relevant to progressive churches because so often their approach to the questions posed by gay people is to say, "Okay, you can get married!" They solve the problem of gay people by … [Read more...]

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