February 13, 2020

my review–filled with spoilers!!–at America online: “BoJack Horseman,” the Netflix cartoon about the depressed, horse-headed celebrity, set itself the nearly impossible task of being a hopeful comedy about chronic alcoholic relapse. For a long time it seemed like the hope came from BoJack’s (voiced by Will Arnett) recurring attempts to change his life: his repeated brief stints of sobriety, the resentful care he offered his abusive mother, his TV comeback, his apologies (“Also I know that my apologies are pretty… Read more

February 5, 2020

at Commonweal: “Everyone is female, and everyone hates it.” This is the thesis of Andrea Long Chu’s performatively edgy, frequently hilarious chapbook, Females, which is both a work of queer theory and a satire on its excesses. It’s feminist theory fueled by contradictions within feminism—and it’s also, unintentionally, an indictment of contemporary Christianity. To be “female,” here, is to be subjected, “to be defined by self-negation,” to scoop out your own desires and replace them with somebody else’s, desiring only… Read more

January 27, 2020

reviewin’: The Iranian writer and director Nima Javidi’s recent film “The Warden” is a prison drama, as its title might suggest. It is also an elliptical parable—with, in a truly weird twist, elements of romantic comedy. more Read more

January 23, 2020

I recently finished Ted Chiang’s first short-story collection, Stories of Your Life and Others, and after a long fallow period I think I’m in love with science fiction again. This collection’s thrills comes from the working out of an idea. Chiang can make your mind turn a corner–and stop and stare in awe. It is true that his characters are perfunctory at best. I can’t even complain that they’re all the same person, because none of them feel like actual… Read more

January 21, 2020

at We Are the Mutants: “It is my dubious privilege to confirm the fact that man never invented anything that he didn’t eventually put to use.” That’s how Tomata du Plenty (played by the punk singer of the same name) describes the nuclear apocalypse that has left him the eponymous sole survivor in Dutch writer-director Rene Daalder’s 1986 film Population: 1, and in the scrawny, wiry actor’s voice there’s as much delectation as warning. Population: 1 is a short film… Read more

January 18, 2020

In order of when I saw them. The Last Exorcism: A child preacher turned (Protestant) exorcist/grifter wants to get out of the faith business, even though it pays his family’s medical bills. He invites a TV crew along for what he intends to be his last job, in which he hopes that his sleight-of-hand magic and Bible salesman’s patter will bring some comfort and peace to an isolated family whose grieving father thinks a devil has gotten into his daughter…. Read more

December 31, 2019

Previous years can be found here. As always, “best” and “favorite” are shifting categories; I felt that most keenly this year with The Farewell. Post title via Leslie Jamison’s The Recovering. Best books read for the first time (non-fiction): This year I read a lot about slavery and related issues of domination and subjugation, which is all leading up to a long-term fiction project. (“You can say ‘novel,’ you know. We’re all moderns here.”) You’ll see the marks of this… Read more

December 29, 2019

“I don’t say that the bird is ‘good’ or the bat is ‘bad.’ But I will say this: At least the bird is less nude.” –Deep Thoughts, by Jack Handey After I saw the new Cats movie, my companion and I had sharply divergent assessments of what was wrong with it. I thought it gave a clinic, by negative example, on why the musical worked; my companion thought it exposed the ways the musical (and, in her opinion, Old Possum’s… Read more

December 18, 2019

Corpus Christi: In this Polish film, a series of coincidences allows a juvenile delinquent (Bartosz Bielenia), who longs to go to seminary but knows his criminal record will keep him out, to hide out in a small town pretending to be their new priest. Daniel emulates the priest who inspired him in the detention center, bringing an unpredictable edge to his Masses and homilies. He’s very clearly still got that criminal heart–he isn’t a lamb or a sweetheart–but for that… Read more

December 17, 2019

Well, you guys know that I wrote a novel, and it has now been published. Was this a good idea? I don’t know, are books usually? Because I am tackier than flypaper I did a drinking game for Gay and Catholic, and now I offer one for Punishment: A Love Story (ebook, paperback). Enjoy if you dare!* * Always read responsibly. This message brought to you by the Committee to Restore the Index. Take a drink… when Des tries to… Read more

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