Tag Archives: books

Monday 09/25 2017
An Obama Speechwriter’s Memoir Makes Clear the Power of Presidential Words

“He [Trump] does this via shock and awe, brute force and braggadocio, channeling every Wall Street wolf and old school football coach who came before him. He speaks in centipede sutures and staples, exclamations and catechisms field trauma care for the gaping wounds where his thoughts have been punctured or sloughed away. He breaks, plods, stutters, roars, a dog whistle the only sounds cutting through the cacophony, his cadence ambling like a skull rolling downhill and thoughts left dangling from the gallows, the familiar, wayfaring elements of the English language made alien, frightening by their appearance and affect, their design—truly, their lack thereof—and delivery, rhetoric as re-animated cat skeleton.”

Read the rest of my essay on David Litt’s memoir Thanks, Obama: My Hopey, Changey White House Years in Paste Magazine

Thursday 08/24 2017
Eastman Was Here: On Satirizing Masculinity

Eastman Was Here follows Alan Eastman, a washed up author who turns to Saigon for the swan song that will save his career and his marriage. Set in the immediate aftermath of the Vietnam War, the book highlights the type of authors who have cast a spell on us at some point—manly men boasting manly emotions, who dissolve their Pain in drugs, women and prose. These are writers descended from Hemingway’s poisonous line, but with a more urbane spin, like Roth, Updike, Irving, Mailer and their peers. You know, the stereotypical novelists who were the accolade-winning dicks in the American post-war literary scene.

We’ve all been suffering in their long, dark shadows ever since.”

Read the rest of my essay in Paste Magazine

Thursday 08/10 2017
Seven Viral Reads: The Paste Magazine Pathogen List

“Pathogens are among the most ancient, numerous and powerful forms of life (and near-life) on the planet. These replication machines possess the power to shape not only our societies, but all life on earth. From the benign to the lethal, viruses, bacteria, prions and other disease-causing agents are the perfect literary subjects.”

Read the list at Paste Magazine

Thursday 07/6 2017
The Polarized: Ashley Shelby’s “South Pole Station”

“Antarctica is a place of extremes: coldest place on earth; home of the world’s largest desert; land of constant sun and constant night. So it stands to reason that Antarctica draws only the most intrepid and unique individuals.

While the continent has no permanent population, numerous scientists and support staff are scattered across its surface. It is here, by design, that Antarctica is meant to avoid at least one polarizing factor: politics. Operated under the Antarctic Treaty System, the South Pole is meant to be a brumal Eden of science, where research centers are freed from the political binds that exist in the world above.”

Read the rest of my review of Shelby’s novel South Pole Station in Paste

Thursday 07/6 2017
Five Books to Relieve Your Financial Guilt

“Finances fray our nerves and shadow our souls. As flies caught in an international web of commerce, few things can make us feel as powerful or as pathetic as our bank balance. So if your parents just paid your rent again or you just can’t reconcile those little numbers on your ATM receipt, these books’ torturous relationships with cash will leave you feeling better about your own (legal) tender issues.”

Read the list in Paste Magazine

Tuesday 06/27 2017
Effortless Indomitability: Christopher Bollen’s “The Destroyers”

“Availing himself to as romantic a backdrop as one could ever hope—not only the island itself, rich with ruin and religion and, well, riches, but also the twin eddies of the Greek economic crash and the Mediterranean refugee crisis—Bollen’s writing echoes both Patmos and the famous words brought up from its core. Sun-blasted prose is pocked with marvelous turns of phrase, and his pawns twist, flay and leak acid like lemons. Every painful and sexy and mysterious moment proves alluringly repulsive, like the heat—from behind designer sunglasses—of the vacation sun…or the end of the world.”

Read the rest of my review of The Destroyers in Paste

Tuesday 06/6 2017
No Pity: Masculinity and Haruki Murakami’s “Men Without Women”

“Any discussion of male loneliness must begin with two caveats. The first is that our loneliness cannot be the fault of women; this is no fedora-wearing, MRA message board polemic. The second is that the issues which may exacerbate loneliness are our own fault, stemming from concepts of masculinity that have given us a pretty good shake for millennia.

Modern American Masculinity is the one I know best, and it feels defined by stoicism, by beards and guns and backwards Flexfit baseball caps. Such atavistic ideas can be deeply alluring; I know, because I have felt them, too. So when a man who defines himself by his Modern American Masculinity is presented with something corrosive like loneliness, he can either sacrifice a part of that masculinity and express his emotional pain or internalize it and immolate with rage. One guess as to what choice many men make.”

Read the rest of my essay in Paste Magazine

Tuesday 05/16 2017
The Effective Narcissism of Chuck Klosterman

“Klosterman’s essays matter, because—despite focusing on a bunch of middle-aged-white-guy-things—their content tackles well-known subjects. These are not meditations on obscure punk records; these are treatises on KISS, for fuck’s sake. It’s like pulling David Foster Wallace’s Consider the Lobster from a black backpack covered in Toy Machine patches and poorly rendered Sharpie doodles. Klosterman pulls the literary equivalent of Jeff Koons’ art—validating your love of something with nary a pat on the head in sight.”

Read the rest of my essay on Klosterman’s new book, X, in Paste

Tuesday 05/16 2017
The New Battle Front Is Personal: The ISIS Hostage and the New War Journalism

“Puk Damsgård’s unadorned chronicle of Danish photojournalist Daniel Rye’s capture, confinement and eventual release delivers a lesson as astringent as medicine: in the modern era of irregular warfare, battlefields are no longer demarcated by flags or trenches but by ideology and memory. Beyond bombs and drones and Kalashnikovs, wars are now fought via emotion and media, perception and pressure. The modern front is personal.”

Read the rest of my review in Paste Magazine

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