Tag Archives: essays

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

Thursday 04/13 2017
Houses on the Sand: “Sunshine State,” Real Estate, and Our Future

“Florida is nothing if not a haven for builders and dreamers, down low where the laws are looser and the warm weather means construction season never ends. Cheap swampland is converted into mansions and country clubs, orchards into a Magic Kingdom, the Everglades into sugarcane fields.

How American is it, this rush to build in an inhospitable place? To turn aside nature and decide to build atop it? How darkly, cruelly, perfectly American is it that a “housing first” approach to ending homelessness in a state with a dire need and an obsession with building is met with fierce hostility, as Gerard chronicles?

That all of those pricey lands, those millions of dollars in assets, will soon be washed away hasn’t slowed their proliferation. This, too, is America in microcosm; it is a blind hunger for lucre and a blind faith for solutions, a bet that either the payout will be worth it or American ingenuity will beat back the seas. Sunshine State does not provide easy answers to any of the questions it dredges up, nor is it meant to; it is left to the reader—and the nation—to sift through the mangrove mud and crab carapaces.”

Read the rest of my essay about Sarah Gerard’s essay collection Sunshine State 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

Tuesday 08/18 2015
A Bookman’s Life For Me

“Perhaps it is the endless parade of titles from either side of the turn of the 20th century or the frequent allusions to reading as an older pleasure that leads one to feel that the bookman of Dirda’s stripe is an endangered creature, doomed to wander amongst the stacks of forgotten novels until one day the bones between the boxes resemble the much adored paper between the covers.

This could not be further from the truth. A cursory glance at the endless supply of book-themed articles, quizzes, lists and ephemera offered by such a new media institution as BuzzFeed proves the idea wrong. These are typically not reviews, literary criticism or even essays; they often appear to have little to do with the written word at all.

But they are a new generation—a new medium—bathed in books, the browsings of a culture of literary polymaths and ambassadors like Dirda have begot.”

Read the rest of my review of Michael Dirda’s Browsings at Paste Magazine

Tuesday 08/12 2014
The Sagging Rope Expert

” … that opening trick, the creativity, the embrace of aesthetics over technical proficiency, being sketchy. It changed how I would skate, how I would forever perceive art and motion and the panoply of human physical expression, in the same way a seminal novel or movie or album might have changed your life. It was like seeing a Basquiat for the first time, and also it was not really much like anything else.”

Read the rest at The Classical