The Crime of the Century

The Crime of the Century

29

Nov

2017

The curious economic logic of streaming services has had a pretty devastating effect on the availability of classic cinema.  I've written before about how streaming media should have created a situation in which any movie of any kind from any era would be available for anyone to watch any time they wanted; and, in fact, it ...
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Live Like an Ape Man

Live Like an Ape Man

24

Oct

2017

"Welcome to the season premiere of BookTalk.  This is our seventeenth season, and of course, we could never have gotten this far without your support.  We've always aimed to bring you only the very best of in-depth discussions of literature and the fine arts, so of course I'm pleased to welcome back to the show Mr. Tyrel ...
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She Knows Which One, Heading Where

She Knows Which One, Heading Where

29

Aug

2017

The apocalypse in fiction fulfills a lot of deep, and predictably dark, needs in the human psyche. Zombie stories are usually an exercise in psychopathy, indulging a curiously common instinct to portray the commission of mass murder without moral consequences; tales of nuclear or other technological holocaust portray a surf ...
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Make It Last All Night

Make It Last All Night

30

May

2017

Neil Gaiman is in the news again.  Some concatenation of dullards is trying to raise half a million dollars for charity, in exchange for which the dreamer of dreams and seller of stories will – and, I am not, I can assure you, making this up, though I wish I were – read the entire menu of a casual dining chain restaura ...
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Send Me No Flowers

Send Me No Flowers

23

May

2017

Ottessa Moshfegh is a hot property right now.  Establishing herself as a writer of excellent stories in the early 2010s in the Paris Review and Granta, she has just published her first collection of short fiction, Homesick for Another World.  It was her first novel, however, that really put her in the sights of the litera ...
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The Drama of Our Time

The Drama of Our Time

20

Mar

2017

Fascism, for reasons that should not be difficult to divine, has been very much on my mind of late.  My bedside table has borne a stack of books about the growth, nature, and origins of fascism, mixed in with the novels, for the last six months or so, and understanding the similarities and differences between fascism and i ...
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Everything is (Dis)Connected

Everything is (Dis)Connected

28

Jan

2017

Ever since the early days of film and television, the question has been asked:  how much fidelity does an adaptation owe to its source material?  I don't think there's any one useful answer to this question. there have been exceedingly faithful adaptations that have been wonderful (John Huston's version of The Maltese Fa ...
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The Party of What People?

The Party of What People?

30

Dec

2016

This will be my last entry of 2016.  Next year will begin, barring some unexpected act of fate, with the ascension to the presidency of Donald Trump, as dim-witted, incurious, crass, and crooked human being that has ever held public office in America.  Trump has spent the hours since the election staffing his White House ...
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Peace Won’t Pay the Rent

Peace Won’t Pay the Rent

27

Dec

2016

Joe Sacco's Palestine was first published in 1993 as a series of single-issue comic books, based on the author's trip to the occupied territories of the Gaza Strip towards the end of the First Intifada.  It was collected by Fantagraphics into a single edition in 1996, at a time when there seemed to be some cause for optim ...
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Content Farm

Content Farm

29

Nov

2016

The problem with writing a sequel to a legendary literary property is that it's almost impossible to do it right, and if you beat the odds and manage it, you won't get any of the credit.  For the original creator, the situation is already bad enough:  if your work is a success, fans will clamor for more of the same and cu ...
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Peaks and Valleys

Peaks and Valleys

27

Nov

2016

Earlier this year, in a burst of post-holiday optimism, I signed up for one of those 'reading challenges' on GoodReads and set myself the goal of reading 25 books this year.  There was a time when this would have been simplicity itself; I used to read at least 50 books on the regular, more if I was out of a job (which happ ...
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La Nuit des Prolétaires

La Nuit des Prolétaires

20

Oct

2016

I've made no secret of the fact that I think of the Paris Commune as one of the pivotal events in human history.  It was not only one of the first, but still is one of the most audacious experiments in equality, freedom, and liberation from oppression that has ever taken place.  One of its most remarkable qualities of thi ...
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A Reason to Suffer

A Reason to Suffer

12

Sep

2016

Guilt has always been a major theme in noir fiction.  Everyone is guilty to some degree or another, and even if they aren't, what does being innocent get you?  Fate will always find a way to trip you up, so you might as well be guilty.  The flip side of this, though, is that everyone starts out innocent, and who ends up ...
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The Drug of Choice

The Drug of Choice

8

Sep

2016

I woke up this morning to have my vacation spoiled by lots of social media chatter about what a terrible job the American media, and in particular Matt Lauer (who is, I suppose, technically a journalist), did of handling Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump last night.  Lauer was selected, by virtue of his familiarity to audie ...
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Shalom and the Jewish Jesus

Shalom and the Jewish Jesus

30

Aug

2016

Shalom Auslander got the best possible start on having a sickly fatalistic sense of humor:  he was a miserable Jew from the day he was born.As detailed in his highly entertaining 2007 memoir Foreskin's Lament, Auslander was raised a deeply unhappy Orthodox Jew in and around New York in the '70s and '80s.  Like many of th ...
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