A Powerful Story of Friendship, Marriage, And Mental Struggles After Wrongful Imprisonment

by Liliana Segura: On a snowy evening in late March, just over a year after walking out of prison, where he had spent 23 years for a crime he didn’t commit, William Lopez entered a CVS in the Bronx and did something inexplicable. After paying for a prescription at the pharmacy counter, he paused to grab some other things—two sticks of Old Spice deodorant and some allergy medicine. Then, without paying, and in full view of a security guard, he walked out. Police were called and Lopez was arr … [Read more...]

“Radio Is a Sound Salvation”: I watch “God Help the Girl”

for AmCon: On the very top level–the frosting of the cupcake, if you will–”God Help the Girl” is a musical about a Manic-Depressive Pixie Dream Girl and her nebbishy love interest. It was written and directed by Belle and Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch, and it is so twee it twinkles, almost two hours of Emily Browning’s giant eyes and sugared voice and insistent suffering, and there were times when I hated it.But beneath that thick super-sweet frosting, this is a subtle film about the stories we … [Read more...]

“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...]

Lenten Linkfest: Includes One Actual Lent Link.

Mudblood Catholic a) echoes the novel I'm working on and b) frightens me, via CS Lewis: Of course, we're all insufferable sometimes and to someone. I think it was C. S. Lewis who speculated that one of the disciplinary aspects of Purgatory might well be perceiving ourselves as others perceived us while on earth. Trying to see ourselves from the perspective of someone who dislikes us intensely -- and perhaps not altogether unfairly -- can be a salutary experience. Though it is admittedly an … [Read more...]

“How Universities Fail Their Students in Crisis”: Leah Libresco

at AmCon: A student is raped by a classmate, goes to the campus center for help, and is grilled about whether she provoked the rape, told she has to confront her accuser personally in order to be taken seriously, and, ultimately, hounded off of campus, since her post-traumatic stress makes her “unstable.”You might recognize all the details from The New Republic‘s story about Patrick Henry College’s alleged mishandling of rape cases, but the above incident is drawn from Angie Epifano’s experi … [Read more...]

“The Shame of Our Prisons”

hard but necessary reading: As recently as five years ago, American corrections officials almost uniformly denied that rape in prison was a widespread problem. When we at Just Detention International—an organization aimed at preventing the sexual abuse of inmates—recounted stories of people we knew who had been raped in prison, we were told either that these men and women were exceptional cases, or simply that they were liars. But all this has changed.What we have now that we didn’t then is … [Read more...]

“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...]


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