Tag Archives: Paste Magazine

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

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

Monday 03/20 2017
On Numbers on Words

Blatt’s approach sounds unorthodox, because, as he so aptly notes, we are used to studying literature in a granular way. We spend days, weeks, months on the reading and analysis of one work. We draw conclusions about culture and place until we exsanguinate it, and then we place it within a broader canon. What Blatt’s numbers can do is study the aggregate, massive swaths of work that can reveal broader trends than any single book can. More data, as far as science is concerned, is always better. The more points one can make coalesce into a picture, the better the odds of that picture being accurate.

Read the rest of my essay 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

Monday 12/12 2016
Power in Pestilence

“In a time where it is no longer considered a death sentence per se, Plague reestablishes HIV as a ruthless pestilence which is an affront to humanity, deserving eradication. The virus penetrates and hijacks our immune system’s cells, hewing our DNA and inserting its own genetic code in a disgusting suturing which causes rapid mutation. Weakened from within, it torturously holds us open for any number of opportunistic infections; tumors grow, fungi sprout, lungs fill, people die.”

Read the rest of my review of David France’s How To Survive A Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS, 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