May 26, 2020

In which my whole time-travel rosary shtik reaches that great drowned continent, the 1990s. But first! Earth Girls Are Easy: Hey whaddaya know, I do like ’em big and stupid! Geena Davis is charming as always in this dumb, ephemeral, pleasurable movie about aliens in late ’80s LA. There’s absolutely no reason you should watch this unless you want to, but if you’re the kind of person who’d want to, you’re the kind of person who’ll like it. Bringing Out… Read more

May 24, 2020

at the University Bookman: At a certain point you realize that David Foster Wallace is as much a horror writer as Stephen King, and the monsters under his bed are twins: absorption and distraction. Infinite Jest, Wallace’s massive 1996 masterpiece, has as its ouroboros spine the story of a video so absorbing that it destroys the people who watch it. In Jest characters are absorbed by addiction, depression, and the screen-mediated entertainment that is symptom, cause, and synecdoche of both…. Read more

May 22, 2020

at America magazine: “Blood Quantum,” the sharp and bloody new film from the writer and director Jeff Barnaby, does something surprisingly rare in the relentlessly popular zombie genre: It makes the return of the dead a symbol of the legacy of past injustice. In this fast-paced, startlingly gory, character-driven tale, the people of a fictional Canadian First Nations reservation watch the beginning of an apocalyptic zombie outbreak—and then realize that only people with a sufficient amount of Native blood are… Read more

May 16, 2020

I recently finished two books trying to do difficult structural things, by authors I love, and they were sharp reminders of the dangers of difficult structure. Lol I’m currently writing a novel that alternates between dream and reality so I’m not trying to hear this…. Lynda Barry, Cruddy. I’ve loved Barry since I was a junior high school weirdo flipping to the back of the City Paper for “Ernie Pook’s Comeek.” Cruddy is an “illustrated novel” which, like Comeek, reads… Read more

May 12, 2020

I Are The Mutants: The standard story of the postwar media landscape centers on the rise of television: news anchors and variety shows, cowlicked children of white couples who sleep in separate beds, the same flickering glow from every home—Donna Reed across the face of the world forever. But a series of books from PM Press points out that the television era was also the golden age of the pulp paperback. By the 1950s, a weedy efflorescence of experimental and… Read more

May 10, 2020

Paperhouse: Good old-fashioned nightmare fuel! This is an emotionally-rich story of an unhappy eleven-year-old girl escaping into a dreamworld created by her drawings, and also a perfect example of 1980s children’s films’ total willingness to horrify. I mean, I think it’s a children’s film. It stars children and is about children’s concerns. But there’s also a scene where a girl’s drunken dream father beats her half to death. There’s a dream father stalking scene. The closest comparison I can make… Read more

April 20, 2020

magazine, though also country: “Things began to come together. I got a job scrubbing toilets, that honestly I am grateful for. It taught me about humility and showing up to do a good job, no matter what job I’m doing. It stripped me of my ego in the best possible way.” This is a description of life in early sobriety written by Hannah Lund in 2017 for The Voices Project, a grassroots recovery organization. It is an especially clear and… Read more

April 19, 2020

The Blackout: I think this was the last movie I watched before my coronexperience Got Real, which may explain why I loved it at the time but can barely remember it now. Or maybe I killed this movie in a blackout??? ANYWAY it’s Abel Ferrara, who is rapidly becoming to me what like Eric Rohmer or Au Hasard Balthasar Guy is to Catholics who enjoy the higher pleasures of the mind rather than the lower, telling the story of a… Read more

April 6, 2020

When my nephew was bar mitzvah, he chose (!) as his Torah portion the Akedah, or Binding of Isaac, Gen 22:1-19. We were talking at the reception afterward and his dad recommended James Goodman’s But Where Is the Lamb?: Imagining the Story of Abraham and Isaac, which the dad and I think also my nephew had read in preparation for the ceremony. I finally got around to reading it and now I can recommend it to you! Some very scattered… Read more

April 1, 2020

is up at We Are the Mutants: In 1983, Lizzie Borden attacked the World Trade Center. I’m talking about Lizzie Borden the film director, and the bomb that goes off at the top of the Twin Towers is the final image of her punk feminist film Born in Flames. (It’s safe to say that the shock of the ending has not been diminished by the passage of time.) Born in Flames is a loving—or at least, love-hating—tribute to the lower-rent… Read more

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