Reviews

Lady Mondegreen’s Jungle

by | September 22, 2022

In 1954 Sylvia Wright, an editor at Harper’s Magazine, wrote a piece for the magazine in which she recalls her childhood. Her mother would read the Scottish ballad “The Bonnie Earl o’ Moray” to her. Here is how young Wright heard the opening lyric: Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands, Oh, where hae ye been? They […]

A Shark-Infested Rice Pudding book cover

Melodrama-Rama: Absorbing Delight

by | September 20, 2022

The Telugu film RRR is an incredible mixture of genres, influences, and ideas: a historical epic with obvious ahistorical qualities, a combat-heavy actioner with exuberant song-and-dance numbers, a homosocial friendship drama with recognizably romantic montages. Strong notes of melodrama accent its potent blend. These notes appear not just literally—in musical form—but also within the film’s […]

RRR Poster

Melodrama-Rama: Local Feelings

by | June 7, 2022

A few weekends ago I drove to the teeny beach town of Oceano. I had received a tip that, somewhere on California’s Central Coast, someone was performing live melodramas.

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Melodrama-Rama: Where Do I Begin?

by | May 5, 2022

Katharine Coldiron's new column Melodrama-Rama takes readers on a beguiling tour of the world of melodrama.

Mildred Pierce movie poster

Extra-metatextuality: A Review of Chuck Klosterman’s The Nineties: A Book

by | April 5, 2022

In his book "The Nineties", Chuck Klosterman is not interested in what’s conventionally understood or easily graspable but in the layers that either exist deep underneath or hover loftily. It’s what makes his essays and books so fun—it allows us to reconsider accepted wisdom.

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On Toni Morrison’s Spiritual Vision: a Conversation with Nadra Nittle

by | October 26, 2021

Nadra Nittle takes meticulous inventory of the ingredients that enliven Toni Morrison’s spiritual vision.

Toni Morrison Book Cover

Notes on Imagined Places: From Tim’s Creek to Santo Domingo

by | September 3, 2021

This imagined town in North Carolina, where all of Kenan’s stories take place, is home to preachers, farmers, Black and white people, the rich and poor. In this town lives a queer Black boy, Horace Cross, whose life is being shrunk by the social boundaries delimiting his desire, the same machinations of shame and disregard that turn many young Black queer people into ghosts of themselves.

a visitation of spirits

Function at the Junction: Notes on Summer of Soul

by | August 19, 2021

I’m getting ready for the function at the junction And baby you’d better come on right now Because everybody’s gonna be there We got people comin’ from everywhere – “Function At The Junction,” Shorty Long, 1966 There’s a long, long legacy of Black folks gathering around food and funk, bbq sauce and song. Before we […]

Summer of Soul

Mushrooms Talk to Her: A Conversation with Bett Williams

by | August 17, 2021

I first did mushrooms with a green-haired mermaid. It was Halloween, we were at an off campus party, and the sea creature invited me to climb into the back of her Bronco with these magic words: “I love your work.” By “work,” she meant the diary entries I posted online, which were mostly about cigarettes […]

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Nonprosecutable: A Review of Shiori Ito’s Black Box

by | July 13, 2021

Through personal narrative, journalist, survivor, and activist Shiori Ito examines rape culture in Japan.

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Spelling Cyphers: A Review of Long Division by Kiese Laymon

by | June 24, 2021

The most interesting mystery novels don’t announce themselves as such. There is no murder to solve or culprit to apprehend. Rather, events which have no obvious explanation unfold and an air of ambiguity surrounds them. Kiese Laymon’s novel Long Division belongs to this category of mystery.

Long Division Book Cover

Documentary The Accidental President Intentionally Forgets the Trump Presidency

by | June 22, 2021

We desperately need documentaries to help us understand how Trump won the 2016 election. Not only does The Accidental President fail to perform this type of analysis, but the movie also stymies it, giving those who participated in the grooming and installation of pro-fascist leader a platform from which to manipulate history.

The Accidental President film poster

‘Executive Order’ Re-Writes the Post-Apocalyptic Genre

by | June 17, 2021

Executive Order challenges viewers to re-think the post-apocalyptic format and hero-making narratives, flipping the script on a genre that has long reinforced racism, centering Black humanity as a racist government lead by an evil Karen tries to force all Black people to repatriate to Africa as a form of reparations.

Executive Order Film Still

Embodied is an Intertextual and Intersectional Masterpiece

by | May 6, 2021

I could go on and on about these collaborations, but I don’t have enough space here to describe how wonderfully, gloriously, and lovingly enthralling they are. There are poems about birth and the body, stories of misogyny at a university and of grappling with a miscarriage. These works explore heritage, family, gender, love, and in the case of the inimitable Diane Seuss, tits. Altogether, they typify the robust state of contemporary poetry.

Embodied Cover

Her Taste For Speed: Rachel Kushner’s “The Hard Crowd”

by | April 28, 2021

The Hard Crowd offers us a portrait of Kushner through her preoccupations, obsessions, concerns, affinities, and distastes. Her writing on others is always writing about the self and in this sense, she is always doing donuts, flashing the lens externally so as to make an entire revolution, pointing the eye inward once again.

Myriam with the Hard Crowd