I Review Christopher Beha’s New Novel of Reality-TV Redemption

for AmCon: Christopher Beha’s Arts & Entertainments is built around a classic morality-tale structure: the devil’s bargain, the spiraling consequences, the choice between a good reputation and a good conscience.Eddie Hartley is an acting teacher of the “those who can’t do” type, whose marriage is being ground down by his wife Susan’s longing for the children they can’t conceive on their own. To pay for another round of IVF treatments, Hartley sells a sex tape from his youthful relationsh … [Read more...]

Working-Class Trust, Monetized Mug Shots, The Bible and Other Children’s Books

What I'm reading.First off, this post from David Lapp is relevant to my review of Coming Up Short: Working-Class Adulthood in an Age of Uncertainty: ...One of the striking things about Brown’s portrait is how poverty co-existed with family cohesiveness and the expectation of marriage. When these poor rural individuals and families migrated North during the 40s, 50s, and 60s, they brought with them their family cohesiveness. But while Elmer and Alice grew up poor, got married, and recently c … [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...]

“The Healing Power of Violence”: My somewhat misleadingly-titled piece

about the portrayal of penitence in Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring, an intensely powerful movie: An old Buddhist monk is raising a little boy, alone together in a floating temple in the middle of a lake. The boy has the casual cruelty of most children, and the old monk catches him tying rocks to small animals to torment them: a fish, a frog, a snake. The monk says nothing, but when the boy wakes up the next morning there’s a huge stone tied to his own back. He acknowledges his guilt … [Read more...]


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