What Was Going On Inside: I Watch “Goodnight Mommy”

for AmCon: An Austrian television personality comes home to her remote, eerie house to recuperate from extensive plastic surgery. Swathed in bandages, she confronts her twin sons—and they don’t recognize her. She can’t persuade the boys that she’s their real mother, and her inability to remember basic information about her own life doesn’t help. She seems to scapegoat one of the boys as the troublemaker; she sometimes refuses to talk to him or even set a place for him at the table. The boys deci … [Read more...]

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“Pro Wrestling (With Angels)”: I review the new Mountain Goats album

at AmCon: CDs of “Beat the Champ,” the new album from indie folk/rock band the Mountain Goats, come with a small white sticker proclaiming: THIS RIGHT HERE IS AN ALBUM ABOUT PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING. I guess they had to get the ironic disclaimer out of the way: Yes, this is a weird thing to do, roll with it please. If you do roll with it you will find an utterly unironic tribute to the wrestling heroes of singer/songwriter John Darnielle’s childhood—and one of his band’s best albums. … [Read more...]

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“The Human Face a Furnace Seal’d”: I Review John Darnielle’s New Novel

for AmCon: The new novel from indie music hero John Darnielle is a moving tribute to the power of the imagination. But not in the way you might think.The novel’s setup is fairly simple. Sean, the narrator, suffered severe facial disfigurement from a gunshot wound sometime in his early life—the kind of disfigurement which makes him hard to look at, which makes other people recoil from him. But after decades of learning to accept his situation, he’s patient, quiet, and hopeful. He’s even manag … [Read more...]

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I Used to Live Here: Old Interview w/John Darnielle About “The Life of the World to Come”

w/various things about his religion, but this was the part which struck me the most: Pitchfork: "Genesis 3:23" is about breaking into a house where you used to live. Is that something you've ever done?JD: Sort of. Not breaking in. I don't do B&Es anymore. I actually never did B&Es, I just did Bs. [laughs] But the inspiration for this is twofold, and is going to be a bit of a long story. I have that feeling that this is something that other survivors of abuse do. When I go back to … [Read more...]

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Musical Rosary #6–Agony in the Garden

He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will." This one's really short and straightforward because there's a song which more or less perfectly captures the acceptance & surrender which this mystery is mostly about for me. I already wrote some stuff about the Mountain Goats' We Shall All Be Healed and it's not like you guys were ever going to escape this rosary series without SOME … [Read more...]

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“Music of the Trilobites”: I’m in AmSpec

on music, drinking, and John Darnielle's novel Master of Reality. You can read it now even if you don't subscribe: 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 n … [Read more...]

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“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...]

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