“Amends” reviewed by Rachel Manija Brown

author of All the Fishes Come Home to Roost: ...The prose and dialogue of Amends is a real pleasure, biting and clever and snappy, quotable and re-readable. At times it’s almost too polished. One of the points of Amends is how modern American society is constructed to allow us an endless amount of shallow quick fixes we can use to stave off whatever raw and terrifying emotions or reality we’re hiding from. Reach out, and there’s always something there to grab, whether it’s drugs and booze, TV an … [Read more...]

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“Famous Monsters of Filmland”: I review Tim Powers’s new novel

for AmCon: The novels of dark fantasist Tim Powers often flow out of weird, grim moments in real history: the strange encounter of a fox and an English spy; the long lit matches burning in a bloodthirsty pirate’s beard. Powers’s latest book, Medusa’s Web, got its start when Powers encountered one of these disturbing little bits of trivia: Rudolph Valentino received Last Rites twice. Why? To answer that question, Powers spins a tale of family secrets and Hollywood ghosts–and an otherworldly, addi … [Read more...]

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Architecture and Human Dignity: Love and Urban Planning

An email from Rosary Abot (this is a glorious name), in response to the person who asked me about city planning and vocations. I am skeptical of "urban planning" as a concept (who will save us from our solutions? how likely is it that people who specialize in urban planning will have the same priorities as e.g. the children of the poor?) but this thing sounds fascinating. I haven't had time to listen yet but I'm passing it on to you all in hopes that you will find time before I do: Eve - Lucien … [Read more...]

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“Christian Love and Kinship Outside Marriage: Thoughts from a Gay Catholic”

My talk at Calvin College is available at Livestream and YouTube (below):I thought this one went well. Oh man though, I'm so glad I got new glasses about a week after this was filmed. Look at how far I have to push these down the bridge of my nose to read. … [Read more...]

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“The Reactionary Mind”: Ross Douthat Gives Me an Excuse

to push you toward the late virago Florence King (I'd start here) and also to suggest Charles Johnson as someone whose weird little parables expressed a lot of reactionary insights from a black American perspective. Also, follow Don Colacho on Twitter....Our intelligentsia obviously does have a conservative wing, mostly clustered in think tanks rather than on campuses. But little of this conservatism really deserves the name reaction. What liberals attack as “reactionary” on the American rig … [Read more...]

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“Some Possibilities for Narratives of Friendship”: I’m at Spiritual Friendship

readin' books: I loved Wes’s post on writing about friendship, and figured I’d throw some specific examples out there to see what actual novels and movies suggest about the nature of friendship. These are very much first-draft thoughts, as I hope you guys will riff on them.“The Body” & Stand By Me–friendship as childhood. This heartbreaking Stephen King novella, which was turned into probably the best adaptation of his work for the screen, tells the story of a group of boys who go on a j … [Read more...]

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Prison Visits Under Threat, “Hamilton” Behind Bars, Art & the NYPD: Three Links from a Criminal Justice System

"Prison visits helped prepare me for life after release. Why are they under threat?": Leaving prison was one of the hardest times in my life. Re-entry is like falling out of a plane: it’s hard to land on your feet. Before I even left, six-plus years at York Correctional Institution developed in me an inability to function in a non-carceral environment. But I owe it to prison visiting rooms – which allowed some contact with the outside world – that my re-entry wasn’t as bad as it could have been. … [Read more...]

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