Tag Archives: 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

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

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

Wednesday 04/13 2016
John McClane and The Hole in the Ground Gang: Architectural Theorists

“Burglary is unique among crimes in that it requires architecture for its execution. Human constructions are integral to its very definition, which involves the illicit entry of a structure with the intent to remove property. If there’s no structure, there’s no burglary—and you’re left with theft or robbery.

If burglary requires architecture, do burglars exhibit a predilection for architectural mores? When they cut holes in ceilings, tunnel into bank vaults, ignore well-guarded doors for the soft walls surrounding them, are burglars not demonstrating how an aberrant view of social and civil engineering can be brought to bear for personal enrichment?

In A Burglar’s Guide to the City, Geoff Manaugh, author of influential architecture siteBLDGBLOG, explores the unique relationship between architecture, civic planning and crime. Paste chatted with Manaugh on the phone about custom-made crime, the unique spatial relationships of bandits and how Die Hard can best illustrate complex architectural concepts.”

Read my interview with Manaugh in Paste Magazine

Friday 03/18 2016
Ashen Foundation

“The line-by-line quality of that purple prose is the novel’s greatest strength and biggest flaw. There are flashes of stunning beauty, like when Mendelsohn describes Steven’s chest rising and falling like an empire or a dress of “threaded nothingness.” But Mendelsohn is at her best in House when things are at their worst. At times, she can come across as tautological (“She sees his fall as she sees her fall. The dropping from a great height. The gulf between high and low.”) To be fair, this is the bane of most florid writers, this reviewer included, who struggle beneath the weight of many metaphors and similes. There is, in the weakest moments, a sense of great talent with little aplomb.”

Read the rest of my review of Jane Mendelsohn’s Burning Down The House in Paste Magazine