• review • November 23, 2018

    The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas by Monica Muñoz Martinez

    In the wee hours of January 28, 1918, the men of Texas Ranger Company B and a handful of local ranchers descended upon the tiny hamlet of Porvenir, hard against the boundary with Mexico. The police had come in search of alleged bandits who were hiding in the area, which, like much of the Texas border region, was roiled by the ongoing Mexican Revolution. The Rangers corralled fifteen men and boys, all ethnic Mexicans, marched them to a nearby bluff, and opened fire at close range. A US cavalryman who came upon the scene described the aftermath: “we smelled the nauseating sweetish smell of blood,

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  • review • November 19, 2018

    The Piranhas by Roberto Saviano

    In English, “novel” equals “fiction”—the meaning is unambiguous. In Italian, however, it’s a bit more complicated. The word romanzo describes a book-length prose narrative, but it does not distinguish between fact and fiction. In the work of Roberto Saviano—Italy’s most famous living writer save fellow Neapolitan Elena Ferrante—they regularly bleed together. Since 2007, when Saviano’s first book, Gomorrah, was translated into English, US readers have had difficulty navigating this ambiguity. Categorized as a romanzo in Italy, Gomorrah was presented as a work of “investigative writing” by its

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  • review • November 14, 2018

    The Chapo Guide to Revolution: A Manifesto Against Logic, Facts, and Reason

    In October 2004, the comedian Jon Stewart appeared on CNN’s debate show Crossfire and confronted hosts Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson with the charge that their program was “hurting America” and that Carlson was “a dick.” Two years later, at the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner Roast, Stewart’s longtime partner in comedy, Stephen Colbert, delivered a blistering roast of President Bush to his face. (“I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble and recently flooded city squares.”) At the time, each of

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  • review • 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,

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  • review • November 06, 2018

    Dusty Pink by Jean-Jacques Schuhl

    If Millennial Pink captures something of 2018’s youth zeitgeist, then according to French author Jean-Jacques Schuhl, winner of the 2000 Goncourt Prize for his novel Ingrid Caven, the late 1960s and early 1970s might be characterized as the years of “dusty pink.” His cult classic of the same title, first published in 1972 as Rose poussière, and now available in its very first English translation, is a patchwork of his musings and meditations on the London and Parisian undergrounds of that era, formed through vignettes and prose poems that blend fact, fiction, and fantasy.

    Color and clothing

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  • 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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