In Greek mythology, the Fates decide a person’s destiny. They assign us to good or evil and decide how long we live. The Furies are monsters, punishing those of us in the Underworld. Lauren Groff’s new novel, Fates and Furies, brings these mythological creatures to life in the form of a couple named Lotto and Mathilde. The first half of the book, entitled “Fates,” focuses on Lotto, while “Furies” tells Mathilde’s story. As the plot unfolds, Groff reveals a sea of discontent and deceit beneath a seemingly ideal marriage.
Groff is no stranger to complicated, sprawling stories. Arcadia (2011) and The Monsters of Templeton (2008) are full of multiple storylines, changing POVs, and intricate plot twists. Fates and Furies does not disappoint in this respect. It opens when Lotto and Mathilde are married, right out of college, on the beach in the middle of a romantic tryst. It follows the couple through college and marriage, and on to New York City. Lotto, who was supposed to be a successful actor, is floundering. Eventually he turns to playwriting, where he becomes an astounding success. But over the years, their marriage turns out to be a coldly calculated move. No one is who you initially think they are. Continue reading
Watch it with us: Hulu
Now that I’ve seen David Cronenberg’s major films and a good chunk of his minor ones, I feel mostly qualified to discuss his particular brand of weirdness and how much I enjoy it. All of David Cronenberg’s films include some element of body horror, and Scanners is no exception. But these days, the term “body horror” often gets conflated with torture porn, and while the two genres do overlap, Scanners is a good reminder that you can have one without the other. Continue reading
Robert Repino, author of the breakout sci-fi novel Mort(e), has published a new novella.
Like his first novel, Leap High Yahoo is about animals and violence in an eerie future that bears a strong resemblance to a ravaged Philadelphia. Unlike his first novel, Leap High Yahoo also about humans, China, capitalism, the Occupy movement, and xenophobia. And the audiobook is narrated by none other than Bronson Pinchot. Continue reading
New music! Sometimes old music. Music that we love!
I came across this song recently, and only learned after the fact it was written about a neighborhood of the same name in New Orleans. While the studio version has a bit more bite and classic blues feel, I love the raw acoustic sound of this recording, with the awesome harmonies in that great space.
From Alynda Lee Segarra, one of the songwriters: “Sam Doores and I wrote this song in honor of a neighborhood called “St. Roch” back in New Orleans, and for some friends who left this world too soon. But we also like to think of it as a prayer: for the city of New Orleans…”
It’s been said that our first taste of mythology is our family history. Brian Panowich’s debut novel, Bull Mountain, portrays a family poisoned by their own mythology. The Burroughs clan has run Bull Mountain, Georgia, for generations, spreading their outlaw empire from moonshine to marijuana to meth, in an uninterrupted flow of crime and power, until one son, Clayton, abandons the family and becomes a county sheriff, pitting brother against brother and the present against the past.
The novel is a sprawling tale that interweaves the storylines of many members of the family: Clayton and his brother Halford; their father Gareth; Clayton’s wife Kate; and Simon, an ATF agent sent to dismantle the whole Burroughs empire; as well as a few other key players. The structure is reminiscent of Don Winslow’s Mexican cartel novel The Power of the Dog, and it works well for Panowich, with only a few slips. (In one section Clayton is opening a file, and then at the start of the next section two lines later he’s still opening the file). Moving from character to character builds suspense and shows the powerful impact this family has had over the course of generations, their poisonous influence changing the lives of everyone who falls under the shadow of Bull Mountain.
Following our first review “#JonathanFranzen #Purity,” we present a second opinion on Franzen’s latest.
I found Purity a wholly enjoyable reading experience. The pleasure of the novel kept me up far past my bedtime on multiple nights. Like Freedom and The Corrections before it, Purity showcases Franzen’s extraordinary ability to pull together disparate story threads in service of a sweeping literary statement.
But here’s the thing about Purity: I’m not entirely sure it works. Continue reading
Great question, glad you asked.
A “literary scene” sounds like a place where you schmooze at cocktails parties and sign book deals. But it might also be a competitive hellhole of smarmy assholes.
A “literary community” sounds like a place where you hang out in coffee shops and join a local writers’ group. But it might also be a cultural backwater with no talent whatsoever.
Which one do you live in? I ran a bunch of Google searches to find the answer. You can see the methodology and the full results here.
Big “literary scene”
- New York City
- San Francisco
- New Orleans
- Los Angeles
More of a “literary community”
- St. Louis
- San Diego
- Las Vegas
- Washington DC
The news from breakfast wasn’t good. In the cupboard above the stove, there were two more packages of Ramen noodles, one package of spaghetti, but no sauce, no cereal, no bread, no peanut butter. In the refrigerator, no milk—just the crusty dregs of some blackberry jam and Lev’s sad yellow box of baking soda. I could go a few more days, maybe even a week. I could rifle through the dusty canned goods in the bomb shelter. But sooner rather than later I needed to get to town. I needed to get food.
The snow was only about a foot deep, but drifts had formed alongside the open field, deep wind-carved cornices that looked like white-capping waves. This morning, even with the fire built up and throwing heat, the chill off the front door was shocking. Generally, as a point of pride, I avoided looking at the thermometer affixed to the side of the house, preferring to take in the weather for myself. Snow squeaking underfoot meant cold; instant nostril hair freezing meant very cold; and for more nuanced readings, there was the sharpness of the air on the exposed skin by my eyes and how far up into the woods my toes went numb. The thermometer’s precision had come to seem superfluous—a stand-in for my own body, which was less finely calibrated than the thermometer’s little black lines, but told me more: the direction of the wind, the smell of coming snow, the idiocy of not wearing wool socks. My body was probably even sending my brain news updates I didn’t know it was receiving— teams of meteorologists and first responders shuttling around, all of it simply registering as an instinct to turn back towards the house or to snowshoe deeper into the woods. But this morning, with my brain actually piping up and telling me I needed to get to town, I checked the circular thermometer. The long red arrow had keeled over and given up. The numbers to the right of zero stood aimless, overly ambitious, like the speedometer of a car up on blocks. Everything, including the very possibility of temperature, canceled on account of the cold.