Function at the Junction: Notes on Summer of Soul
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 […]
Mushrooms Talk to Her: A Conversation with Bett Williams
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 […]
Nonprosecutable: A Review of Shiori Ito’s Black Box
Through personal narrative, journalist, survivor, and activist Shiori Ito examines rape culture in Japan.
Spelling Cyphers: A Review of Long Division by Kiese Laymon
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.
Documentary The Accidental President Intentionally Forgets the Trump Presidency
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.
‘Executive Order’ Re-Writes the Post-Apocalyptic Genre
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.
Embodied is an Intertextual and Intersectional Masterpiece
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.
Her Taste For Speed: Rachel Kushner’s “The Hard Crowd”
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.
Crying in H-Mart: Grief, Hunger, and Healing
In rock musician Michelle Zauner's memoir "Crying in H-Mart", food is not just a vessel to memorialize her mother but a touchstone for accessing her Korean heritage.
Pola Oloixarac’s Mona is a Devastating Satire That Got Blurbed by a Creep
Pola Oloixarac’s Mona (translated from Spanish by Adam Morris) is a devastating and harrowing satire of the literary world, an alternately hilarious and piercing examination of the culture surrounding books.
‘Moxie’ Provides White Girls an (Imperfect) Guide to Activism
Amy Poehler's Moxie is the narrative version of Feminist Organizing 101, made with the white, teenage set in mind. If that sounds tiring, know that Poehler brings her singular ability to make do-gooding fun and while its white feminist reach is limited, Moxie manages to inspire.
Bad Attitude: The Art of Spain Rodriguez Explores the Legacy of a Cartoonist Who Reserved the Right to Objectify
Toward the end of her documentary Bad Attitude: The Art of Spain Rodriguez, director Susan Stern asks in voice-over, “Did I make this film to defend Spain? Or to defend myself?” It’s a telling question, one important enough to justify Stern briefly putting the focus on herself and taking it away from her husband and […]
Of Women and Salt: A Beautiful Novel from Flatiron Books Rubs Salt in the Wounds of the Black Caribbean
A complex and nuanced story of mother-daughter relationships developed across five generations. But while Garcia attempts to contribute to the larger conversation of race and ethnicity in Cuba, but the depictions of Black Cuban characters lean heavily on age-old stereotypes defined by theft and criminality.
The Dangers, and Pleasures, of Smoking in Bed
Mariana Enriquez’s The Dangers of Smoking in Bed joins the ranks of magic realism's finest short story writers with a group of off-kilter tales enlivened by captivating unease.
Sylvie’s Love is Pretty as a Picture
Sylvie's Love relegates whiteness to its rightful place: This isn't Harlem gentrified by our concepts of unity twenty years into the 21st century.