• review • September 18, 2018

    Eden by Andrea Kleine

    Andrea Kleine’s novel opens with the confluence of two distinctly tabloid anxieties: divorce and kidnapping. Hope and her half-sister, Eden, latchkey kids of the 1990s, have grown up trekking back and forth between their home in Charlottesville and their father’s new place in the mountains. Both parents refuse to make the ninety-minute drive, so every other weekend the sisters take the Greyhound to the strip mall bus station where they bicker and study and wait for their father. On a Friday afternoon in the autumn of Hope’s freshman year of high school, he doesn’t show up. Eden, the older of

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  • pubdates • September 17, 2018

    Extralife

    Saturday was the Hold Steady video. It is a good thing not all one hundred people showed up because we had room for about thirty-three total. People later said they did not show because filming video is waiting around for twenty hours to act fake-excited in one-minute spurts. Which might be true when you are on the set of Sum 41’s “Spooge Patrol” shoot, but this is the Hold Steady; they are a punk band on a punk budge, no time to spare. I got paid with a latte and a vegan muffin. It was like a Hold Steady show, except it lasted three hours, and they played the same song eight times all the way

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  • print • Sept/Oct/Nov 2018

    No Thanks for the Memories

    The back cover of my review copy of Katerina describes it as “James Frey’s highly anticipated new novel, his first in ten years.” This assertion, maybe unsurprisingly for a Frey production, is not exactly true; depending on how you count, Frey has written as many as thirteen novels since 2008. Right there from his Amazon author page I can buy Frey’s The Final Testament of the Holy Bible, a novel in which a contemporary, bisexual, and extremely horny Jesus offers a searing critique of modern society, published in 2011 by the Gagosian Gallery and available in paperback, electronic, and

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  • print • Sept/Oct/Nov 2018

    Zombieland, USA

    Except for its action-packed title, Peter Biskind’s The Sky Is Falling: How Vampires, Zombies, Androids, and Superheroes Made America Great for Extremism doesn’t have much in common with the smack-talking chronicles of Hollywood rebels he’s best known for. A onetime editor at Premiere magazine, he first hit pay dirt twenty years ago with Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock ’N’ Roll Generation Saved Hollywood. Only cinephilia’s most stubborn vegans didn’t immediately gobble up that gooey cheeseburger of a book.

    Easy Riders, Raging Bulls charts a “Golden Age” sparked by Arthur

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  • print • Sept/Oct/Nov 2018

    Safety Last

    “The devil has got hold of the food supply in this country.” This was the conclusion of Nebraska Senator Algernon Paddock, chairman of the Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, in 1891. That year, he sponsored a bill that would become just one more failed legislative attempt to require food producers to label their products truthfully. Among the transgressions he was trying to stop were common practices like whitening milk with chalk, “embalming” corned beef with formaldehyde, lacing fake whiskey with soap (it made the liquid bead on the glass), and creating ground “pepper” made of “common

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  • print • Sept/Oct/Nov 2018

    Too Loud a Solitude

    JUSTIN TAYLOR: Let’s start at the beginning. You started working as a journalist and a critic fairly young, fresh out of undergrad, yeah?

    JOSHUA COHEN: 2001, yup. Just before 9/11, aka Ten Days After The Corrections Was Published.

    The true beginning of the twenty-first century. You say in your introduction to your new book Attention: Dispatches from a Land of Distraction that you’d “always planned” on being a writer, but I get the sense that you didn’t always plan on this type of writing in particular. It was novels you had on your mind and then this just . . . happened?

    I was an idiot.

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  • print • Sept/Oct/Nov 2018

    Love Is the Message

    In a “Talk of the Town” piece from the September 27, 1976, issue of the New Yorker, Jamaica Kincaid recalls a night spent at the Loft, David Mancuso’s legendary invitation-only disco (which was also his home), then at 99 Prince Street, in SoHo. She describes her get-down docent, a Loft habitué: “A man we know named Vince Aletti spends much of his time ‘partying,’ and, as can be imagined, he has a lot of fun. Vince Aletti loves to dance, knows just about all the good current dance songs, and writes a column on discothèque music for a national music-trade magazine. When popular-music critics

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  • print • Sept/Oct/Nov 2018

    Artful Volumes

    The catalogue raisonné Thomas Demand: The Complete Papers (Mack, $85) follows the German sculptor-turned-photographer’s twenty-five-year paper trail—literally. The artist builds and photographs elaborate and eerily convincing life-size scenes entirely from colored paper and cardboard, often drawing inspiration from mass media images. His photos of creepy unpeopled spaces, with titles such as Archive, Staircase, and Room, are misleadingly bland. Büro (Office), 1995, is based on a shot published in the West German newspaper Der Spiegel, showing a generic—yet chaotic—room with a plain desk and

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  • print • Sept/Oct/Nov 2018

    Type Setting

    MERVE EMRE STRIKES a rare off-note in her crackling new book, The Personality Brokers, when she briefly purports not to understand the appeal of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). A questionnaire that sorts humanity into sixteen personality types, the MBTI is a means of “annihilating individuality,” Emre points out. “What remains unexplained,” she writes, is why so many individuals embrace it.

    Unexplained? Please. People love to think about themselves, and they love a pseudoscientific rubric with which to do so. Every person to whom I mentioned this book asked immediately whether I’d

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  • print • Sept/Oct/Nov 2018

    Royal Flux

    On July 6, 1962, a group of young upstarts presented “A Concert of Dance” at the Judson Memorial Church, which stands on the south side of Washington Square Park in downtown New York City. More than three hundred people gathered to watch the show—an impressive number given that every performer on the bill was somewhat new to the scene. Yvonne Rainer, Steve Paxton, David Gordon, and Deborah Hay were but a few of those whose pieces that evening, to quote critic Jill Johnston, felt as though they “could make the present of modern dance more exciting than it’s been for twenty years.” Throughout

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  • print • Sept/Oct/Nov 2018

    Touch Wood

    In 1969 the painter Jack Whitten arrived in the town of Agia Galini, on the Greek island of Crete. Shortly before leaving New York he’d had a dream in which he was commanded to find a tree and carve it. From the bus window he spied the tree from his dream. He approached the owner, but because Whitten couldn’t speak Greek, the man thought he was saying he wanted to cut it down. Whitten came up with a plan to communicate his aim: “I went into the surrounding hills, found some wood and set up shop on the harbor beneath some trees.” The owner understood immediately and even lent Whitten his tools.

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  • print • Sept/Oct/Nov 2018

    Into the Wreck

    In December 1971, Adrienne Rich, then forty-two, spoke to a roomful of women about what the women’s liberation movement might do for literary study. Like Rich, the women gathered that day were writers, teachers, and scholars. Like her, they had gone to good colleges, studied with famous male scholars, and read canonical male writers; this is how they had learned what literature was and should be. But as women across the country filed charges of sexual discrimination and marched for equality in the streets, they were starting to revise their ideas about literary significance. Like Rich, they

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