Tag Archives: books

Thursday 04/13 2017
Alternating Currents: On Bipolar and David Leite’s Memoir

“Mania is, as Leite described, neon. If I am full-blown manic, I am All; I am the Greatest Writer Who Ever Lived, I am a Deity and, as such, require My Pronouns and Titles to be capitalized. I rive skulls, rend nature, exert Myself upon the universe, Intelligence and Sex and Creativity, a Perfect Creature, Napoleon, immune to even heat-death, My mind red-shifting, driven by murmuring voices which I can hear but never make out. I am a Run-On Sentence, a Living James Joyce Passage, and I file essays with 386 word lede sentences, which are, really, as apt a metaphor as I am able to offer, a truly definite porthole, in My Indomitable Opinion; I am Ego, Great and Powerful and Right Ego, gloriously and deliriously thrilled with Me, Myself, the complete and utter inverse of bitter depression, I’m not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, flipped and reversed and shot screaming up in to the night like a bullet, a Catherine Wheel, a cruise missile, a Saturn V, the Immolating Flight of the Wendigo, the very thoughts and prayers and animus of the Earth and creation itself, King of the Towering Peak with tears lashing My eyes, and everything laid out before Me, for Me, to be manipulated by Me; I am Galactus.”

Read the rest of the essay in Paste Magazine

Saturday 04/8 2017
A Predictable Nature: “Feral” Falls Short

Feral’s fatal flaw is that it’s built around a simple but powerful idea: that men—who already rape, kill, beat, threaten, humiliate—simply give in as ferals to this horrifying undercurrent of aggression. The novel had a chance to allow men to see themselves for the threat they can so easily be. What Feral delivers instead is social issue lip service atop a standard issue “end of the world as we know it” warning shot of a story—slight, fast, loud and glancing.”

Read the rest of my review at Paste Magazine

Friday 03/3 2017
The Haunting Relevancy of Yoojin Grace-Wuertz’ debut novel

“Even if some of the story beats sound familiar, their placement in Wuertz’s Seoul, where hair gleams “like the belly of a giant tuna” and drinks arrive “one after the other like the next turn on the disco ball” even as American GIs tear families apart and agitators are whisked away in black cars, renders them new.

The novel reveals an exciting place and time, in the catalytic sense, and all the more-so for us as visitors who are surrounded by its echoes—class, sex, race—even now.”

Read the rest of my review of Everything Belongs To Us in Paste Magazine

 

Thursday 02/2 2017
Cat Marnell’s Amphetamine Memoir and How We View Addiction

“While at Lawrence Academy in Groton, Massachusetts, Marnell is introduced to Ritalin and the entire trajectory of her life changes. Armed with a methylphenidate prescription, her grades soar, along with her social status. The performance-enhanced work/play dichotomy first established at Lawrence is repeated throughout the rest of the book, throughout the rest of her career; it is the speed which helps her rip through the hallowed halls of Condé Nast like garden shears through satin, pushes her into parties past dawn, sends her careening about the streets of Alphabet City, fitting in to exceptional designer jeans as she chases more drugs, work and people.

The image of the addict as hopelessly in the gutter, completely incapable of functioning, is torn asunder. She has crippling depressive periods, of course, wherein she does nothing for days, weeks, months, but Marnell is a voltaic little bee for much of her memoir, omnipresent around Magazine World. It would be impossible to deny her work ethic, drug-derived or not; Marnell’s desire to work in magazines and publishing is a constant lodestar, even if one being navigated while on a particularly unstable fuel source.”

Read the rest of my feature-cum-review of Marnell’s memoir at Paste

Thursday 01/5 2017
On Art and Commerce: The Manjula Martin Interview

“‘There has always been a conflict between making art and selling art. It’s always something artists had to negotiate, from the days of patronage to now. Colin writes about the first Greek poet who gets paid for his work, and how everyone said he was a sellout. And he kind of was, but he placed a value on his work. He wasn’t afraid to ask for it, and that was a historical moment.’”

Read the rest of my interview with Manjula Martin, editor of Scratch and founder of Who Pays Writers?, at Paste Magazine

Tuesday 01/3 2017
Turkey’s Chorus of Discontent

“Tracing modern activists’ ideological lineage back to the famed Young Turks and Young Ottomans, Genç both vivisects modern-day Turkey and grounds it in the country’s past. There are no answers in the book, no tidy, big picture proclamations; the work is rather a snapshot of a nation during a crucial time in today’s political landscape.

Under the Shadow is, in short, both complicated and absolutely necessary.”

Read the rest of my review Kaya Genç’s Under the Shadow in Paste Magazine

Wednesday 10/26 2016
Vampire Cartels in Mexico City

“It is not in the vampires and mythology that Certain Dark Things takes its strengths—although they will surely appeal; a movie option is easily imaginable—but in the motivations of the antagonists and real-world framework she has laid upon her vampires. The parallels between Atl and Nick’s antagonism—the decapitations, mutilations, bodies in barrels—with the real drug war in Mexico are inextricable. In simply amplifying the lurid stories which already emanate like the scent of blood in the popular consciousness, Moreno-Garcia imbues her monsters with familiarity and gives us ghouls we already know exist.”

Read the rest of my review of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Certain Dark Things in Paste Magazine

Wednesday 10/5 2016
A Sociological History of Haunted America

“Ghost stories are how we attempt to codify the uncanny and the uncomfortable, the painful and the personal, the romantic and the irredeemably horrible. After all, are not people haunted by lovers and places haunted by tragedies?

By hewing to the facts and using a historian’s loupe, author Colin Dickey seeks to illuminate ghosts’ cultural presence. Ghostland, Dickey’s new book chronicling the sociological history of America’s most haunted places, finds its power not in the numerous phantoms lurking in the country’s shadows, but in the buildings, battlefields, slave prisons and Native American lands that birthed them.”

Read my interview with Colin Dickey in Paste Magazine

Tuesday 09/27 2016
Our Reputations, Our Selves

“Reputations is not quite a repudiation of the media’s power to suck the marrow from others. But by bringing Mallarino to a savage collision with the moment that afforded the cartoonist his prominence, Vásquez warns of the fragility inherent in such power. He’s calling into question whether the powers given to us—both by others and, perhaps more importantly, by ourselves—can ever come from a place of true honesty.”

Read the rest of my review of Juan Gabriel Vásquez’ Reputations in Paste Magazine

Monday 08/22 2016
Our Secret History

Society is drowning in an ocean of data … This is perhaps the most important ocean ever, and the battle to control it has been the silent engine driving much of Western ingenuity. State and criminal elements find themselves plying the same waters as private companies and individuals, as this world of espionage, surveillance and hacking becomes our own …Thrust as we are into the world of digital espionage, Cyberspies’ history is immediate; it is our own.

You are now information; shouldn’t you be informed?

Read the rest of the book review in Paste Magazine