Reading, ‘Riting and Repentance: Some Notes from the Festival of Faith and Writing

at Calvin College. This was a blast, guys. Here are some semi-cleaned-up excerpts from my notes.I don't need a literary agent. I need a literary patient. This is a great poem. "The wall comes down." Calvin vs #orthodoxerasure--there was a panel of Orthodox Christian poets, which had way too much bafflegabby "what is liturgy, what is poetry" for my taste (although I loved Scott Cairns's "Poetry focuses your attention") but also made me think there are two conflicting, equally-true ways … [Read more...]

When the Last Days Come, We Shall See Visions: A Holy Week Roundup That’s Really an Excuse…

...to talk about the Mountain Goats. Once more I did my annual Mountain Goats Holy Week and once more it was awesome. Notes from this year: 1. Whoa, my sense of when these albums were made is totally off. Assumed Get Lonely and Heretic Pride were early because I don't like them much but it turns out that's not at all true! I still ease in with Get Lonely, but I'm now fond of that one song about the Tianchi monster, the one that's kind of a knockoff "Bigfoot!" in subject matter and general … [Read more...]

From What’s Probably an Afterword to Andrey Platonov, “The Foundation Pit”

this book looks super All these works appear at first glance--especially to a reader unversed in Soviet history--to be highly surreal. This impression, however, is misleading; they contain barely an incident or a passage that does not directly relate to some real event or publication from these years. Platonov's focus is not on some private dream world but on political and historical reality--a reality so extraordinary as to be barely credible. buy book here; cf also my constant refrain, … [Read more...]

“Love and Death in the Multiverse”: I review “Constellations”

for AmCon. Sorry for radio silence! I will be back after Easter. Also this play closes THIS WEEKEND so most Catholics who haven't seen it won't--I fail at service journalism--but in case a review is still useful or interesting to you, here it is: Constellations, playing through March 27 on Studio Theatre’s 4th Stage in Washington, is a slender play that uses its increasingly-familiar structure to illuminate less-familiar questions.This is one of those Rashomon-like plays where we see the s … [Read more...]

Five (Or Seven) Links from a Criminal Justice System: Art, Emus, Criminalization of Poverty. But Hey, Emus!

"Rarely Seen Images of the Real San Quentin": The pictures, for the most part, are prosaic, like outtakes from a yearbook photo shoot. One shows five members of an amateur rock band. Another depicts uniformed football players gathered for a team photo. In yet another, a man is shown carving an ice sculpture. Occasionally, though, the subject matter is much darker.One photo comes with caption information: “Martinez Killed in Yard, 1963.” It shows empty bleachers and what appears to be blood s … [Read more...]

From Hans Fallada, “Wolf Among Wolves”

[The police officer Leo Gubalke] sighed. If one considered the matter closely, the world was surprisingly full of obstacles for a man who believed in order. Hundreds of things which the less scrupulous did every day were out of the question for him. On the other hand, he had the pleasurable feeling, without which a man could not live, that he was not only keeping the world in order, but was in harmony with it himself. (I wish I could quote every single line of the tale of Leo Gubalke. It's … [Read more...]

From Hans Fallada, “Wolf Among Wolves”

One nice thing about reading so much Hans Fallada (for an upcoming review/profile) is how often I think, "Okay, that sounds a lot worse than right now." But then there are moments like this exchange, between a former Army officer who now does entry-level labor at a hotel, and his landowner friend: "Of course we took up the wrong attitude. I've discovered that ninety-nine percent of mankind have to torment themselves about money; they think of it day and night, speak of it, spend it, save it, … [Read more...]