“Music of the Trilobites”: Me in AmSpec

not really a book review!I read John Darnielle’s 2011 novel Master of Reality under the unfamiliar constellations of Australia—which was fitting, since the slender book is about being both physically and spiritually far from home. Master of Reality is an entry in Continuum’s “33 1/3” series of books about pop or rock albums. (The other books in the series tend to be straightforward critical studies.) I’ve never listened to Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality, but Darnielle’s diary of a 1980s te … [Read more...]

“Every Day Is Like Sunday: Rediscovering Wilfrid Sheed’s ‘The Hack’”

Me at AmCon: Don’t call Wilfrid Sheed’s 1963 The Hack a forgotten Catholic classic. I don’t want it to be dismissed so easily.Sheed was the scion of Frank Sheed and Maisie Ward, the Catholic publishers and apologists; he knew that pre-Vatican II world of professional religion from the inside. The Hack is a satirical tragedy about Bert Flax, a man who supports his wife and five children by writing pabulum for the lower levels of the Catholic press: angels with cotton-candy wings, Irish … [Read more...]

My Best Fiend: “Let the Right One In”

It's only May and I've already watched three very different vampire movies. 2008 Swedish chiller Let the Right One In is the one which most thoroughly explores vampire imagery and lore; it's just as good as you've heard, achingly sad and genuinely awful and scary.A few notes which I hope won't constitute spoilers. But really, if you think you might like this movie and you haven't already seen it, what's keeping you? (In my case the answer was, "A Netflix queue which circles the earth like … [Read more...]

“How to Stop Time”: I review “Only Lovers Left Alive”

for AmCon: There’s a lot to love about this swoony, drifty vampire flick, a sensual opium dream which unfurls in a lushly-colored musical haze. Tilda Swinton was born to play a vampire, with her giant sepulcher-face full of bones. She’s magnetic, as are the cityscapes, a bleached-white Tangiers and half-abandoned Detroit.The blood=drug equation isn’t subtle, but there’s a subtler, haunting motif of music and nostalgia as ecstatic drugs in which we lose ourselves. The vampires are drunk on th … [Read more...]

From “Master of Reality”

I got this calendar free with dinner at New China up on Foothill. They were giving them away if you ate there in January. One thing about me is that I always get maximum use out of free things. When the managers from around the country all went to San Diego for the region-wide management training summit, I kept all the soaps and shampoos from the hotel room they'd put me in. I also kept the toothpaste. And I didn't keep them in a closet as a souvenir of the management training summit, either: I … [Read more...]

From John Darnielle, “Master of Reality”

Now I feel like a freak. Kids at State used to call each other "freak," it was like the meanest thing you could call a guy until he'd been there long enough to really stop caring. At that point though it stopped being an insult and became more like a job tile or army rank. … [Read more...]

The Guilty Party: A Double Novel of Czech Complicity and Canadian Frivolity

Joseph Skvorecky's Two Murders in My Double Life basically does what it says on the tin. It's two intertwined stories in two different genres, one per country. There's a college satire set in Canada, full of bed-hopping and lady sleuths; and then there's a dark, sad, realistic story of the aftermath of totalitarianism, in which a Czech newspaper publishes a list of those who informed during the Communist years. Hingeing the two tales together is an emigre professor whose students get mixed up in … [Read more...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X