“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”