“Broke and Alone”: I review Coming Up Short: Working-Class Adulthood in an Age of Uncertainty

at The American Conservative: Because most of the traditional pathways to adulthood—marriage, economic independence, stable job—seem out of reach or prove to be reversible, working-class young adults have developed a new definition of maturity. This new pathway relies heavily on therapeutic culture: You become an adult by overcoming the trauma of your past, whether that involved abusive parents, drug addiction, mental illness, or less flamboyant hardships. Young adults who take on this new def … [Read more...]

“When a Child Is a Second Chance”: Me at Acculturated

continuing the series of posts on penitence: When I opened Doing the Best I Can: Fatherhood in the Inner City, I wasn’t expecting to include it in this series on portrayals of penitence. The new study by Kathryn Edin and Timothy J. Nelson picks up where Edin and Maria Kefalas’s 2005 Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage left off. Sticking with the same economically-depressed Philadelphia neighborhoods, Doing the Best I Can asks young men how they became fathers, how … [Read more...]

“Short Term 12,” A Long-Term Memory

The new indie drama Short Term 12 looks like one of those well-meaning, poignant, emotionally powerful films I would never, ever want to see. It's about a very young white lady named Grace (Brie Larson) who works with kids and teens in foster care; she begins to heal her own inner wounds because of the unexpected connection she forges with a sullen, angry white girl in her care. Despite several unrealistic elements, the movie creates incredibly compelling characters and beautiful, potentially … [Read more...]

“The Lost Boys”: I review Jodi Angel’s “You Only Get Letters from Jail”

at the Weekly Standard:The words “have” and “get” pulse insistently through Jodi Angel’s new short story collection. What you have to do, what you get to do, what you get away with; getting in trouble, getting used to it. Sometimes Angel even doubles up on these words: “My stomach clenched a little and I got ready to get in trouble.” That tensed, hurting readiness is one of the collection’s central moods. The other is a post-traumatic numbness which can sometimes become sentimentalized and is … [Read more...]

“In Love and Struggle”: I review LaToya Ruby Frazier at the Brooklyn Museum

It's a terrific show, closing THIS SUNDAY, so check it out if you're in the area! It’s the kind of Mother’s Day card you might give if you come from an especially unflinching family: A mother stands tall and imposing in front of the camera, facing it squarely and glaring at it. The daughter stands behind her mother–she’s slim enough that her body fits entirely behind her mom’s, as her face looks away and down. Their two shadows merge on the wall, creating one larger, indistinct shadow. The mothe … [Read more...]

“What We Taught Children to Do to Other Children”

Indiegogo site raising money for Fix My Kid, a documentary on the abuses of the "troubled teen industry." (More here.) … [Read more...]

From Marilynne Robinson, “Home”

Those grown children had, almost all of them, bent their heads over whatever work she gave them, even though their bodies were awkward and restless with the onset of adulthood, fate creeping through their veins and glands and follicles like a subtle poison, making them images of their parents and strangers to themselves. There was humor in it of a kind that might raise questions about the humorist. … [Read more...]


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