Lindsay Zoladz

  • We Got a Revolution

    One of the inevitable advantages that Liz Garbus’s recent documentary, What Happened, Miss Simone?, has over the book of the same name by Alan Light is its mesmerizing footage of Nina Simone in performance. The most arresting scene shows Simone playing at the 1976 Montreux Jazz Festival. Framed in an intimate close-up, Simone has just begun a hushed rendition of the Janis Ian song “Stars” when she suddenly lifts her right arm from the piano and extends it accusatorially toward the balcony. “Hey girl,” she chides an unseen audience member. “Sit down. Sit. Down.” She waits. And then, once the

  • Girl Afraid

    The Los Angeles–based poet Melissa Broder writes about the hot-pink toxins inhaled every day by girls and women in a late-capitalist society (a few evocative phrases from her latest book: “diet ice cream,” “pancake ass,” “Botox flu”) and the seemingly impossible struggle to exhale something pure, maybe even eternal. “I tried to stuff a TV / in the hole where prayer grows,” she wrote in her pummeling 2012 collection, Meat Heart, which was followed by the searing Scarecrone in 2014. Here, from her website, is her version of an author’s bio: “when i was 19 i went thru a breakup, smoked weed all

  • Scorn This Way

    When he was eighteen, southern singer-songwriter Vic Chesnutt was in a car accident that partially paralyzed him from the neck down. He had been drinking and flipped his car into a ditch; no one else was hurt. Chesnutt would never walk again, but about a year after the crash he regained limited use of his arms and hands—just enough to play a few simple chords on the guitar. “My fingers don’t move too good at all,” he told Terry Gross in a 2009 NPR interview. “I realized that all I could play were . . . G, F, C—those kinds of chords. And so . . . that’s what I was going to do.” Working within

  • Sweet Grief

    From an early age, Sean Phillips, the narrator of John Darnielle’s novel Wolf in White Van, has counted himself among a particular sect of “young men who need to escape.” Alone in his backyard in Southern California in the early ’80s, he pretended he was Conan the Barbarian; when he got a little older, he replied to small-print ads in the backs of magazines that said things like “Catalog of Rare and Unknown Swords from Around the World, Send Three Dollars and Two International Reply Coupons.” He spent countless hours—days, maybe weeks—scouring the sci-fi and fantasy sections of bookstores,

  • Station to Station

    When Anna Brundage, the heroine of Stacey D’Erasmo’s Wonderland, was three years old, her father sawed a train in half and pushed it over a cliff. It was 1972, and the art world was rocked: Critics declared that he had reinvented sculpture. A postcard of the gored, upended car became a dependable seller in the MoMA gift shop. But like any creative breakthrough, Roy Brundage’s sawed-in-half train is its own kind of curse; he will spend the rest of his life attempting to recapture the unassuming wildness of that piece. He tries, prolifically, muscularly: He breaks an abandoned Texas prison in