Andrew Schenker

  • culture September 17, 2019

    Moving On

    The problem has to do, as it always does, with language. In When Death Takes Something from You Give It Back, Naja Marie Aidt’s reckoning with the untimely death of her son, Carl, she acknowledges this fact early and often. “My language is all dried up,” she writes in the book’s opening pages. “I vomit over art.” This weariness with written expression is born from the age-old struggle to put words to the most important and mysterious aspects of humanity: our feelings on love, our search for higher meaning, our final demise. It is, she admits, a complaint as old as writing itself.

    What makes

  • A History of Violence

    Writing history is a tricky business, one that always reflects the biases and agendas of the author. This holds doubly true for what is not written about, those historical events that almost everyone would rather ignore. Few people are familiar with the events of May 1911 in the La Laguna region of Mexico, when the Maderistas, a group of revolutionaries, took the city of Torreón and slaughtered more than three hundred Chinese immigrants. The Maderistas mutilated their victims’ bodies, looted their businesses, and destroyed what had once been a vibrant enclave.

    This “small genocide,” as novelist

  • culture November 09, 2018

    Football for a Buck by Jeff Pearlman

    In Mike Tollin’s 2009 documentary Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?, he answers the question posed by the film’s subtitle in no uncertain terms. It was, he argues, none other than Donald J. Trump. That upstart entity, the United States Football League, which played eighteen games every spring from 1983 through 1985, with varying degrees of popularity and success, might well have found a more permanent footing had it not been for the meddling of a brash young New York real estate developer. Trump, who bought the New York/New Jersey franchise, the Generals, after the league’s first season,

  • culture June 12, 2018

    Mirror, Shoulder, Signal by Dorthe Nors

    The women in Dorthe Nors’s books are perpetually adrift. Approaching middle age, often coming off breakups, unhappy in their work, they fit in neither in the urban bustle of Copenhagen, where they’ve spent the majority of their adult lives, nor in the rural Jutland of their childhoods. They lack a center, don’t know how to regain their equilibrium. And so they wander around the city, attending to the minutiae of daily life, reminiscing about their past, and reflecting on a desire for a more fulfilling existence they don’t know how to achieve.

    Such a setup can naturally lend itself to either

  • culture February 16, 2018

    Empty Set by Verónica Gerber Bicecci

    In Verónica Gerber Bicecci’s novel Empty Set, the book’s narrator, an authorial stand-in also named Verónica, is haunted by her mother’s disappearance back when she was fifteen. In the book’s slightly fantastical world, this disappearance is gradual, ghostly: One day, Verónica and her brother noticed that it was increasingly difficult to understand what their mother was saying. She began to literally fade away and “in the end, we couldn’t see her anymore.” Years after the disappearance, Veronica and her brother still glimpse (or think they glimpse) phantom-like images of their mom around the

  • politics October 11, 2017

    Dix and Dix: On "In a Lonely Place"

    We first meet Dix Steele, the star of Nicholas Ray’s 1950 Hollywood noir In a Lonely Place, as he pulls his car up to a stoplight on a dark Los Angeles street. From the vehicle next to him, a blonde woman addresses him by name—she seems to know him, but Dix isn’t having it. When she tells Dix that she starred in the last picture he wrote, the screenwriter replies tartly, “I make it a point never to see pictures I write.” Because Dix is played by Humphrey Bogart, the line comes across with a wry charm, but because he’s played by late-career Bogie, it’s weighted with a certain weariness, a curdled