Movie Drinking Game #2: The Groundhog Effect

Drink every time a protagonist repeats the same routine with a different result.

On paper it seems like a terrible idea to have your protagonist relive the same day over and over. How could that possibly be interesting or exciting? But Groundhog Day came along and proved us wrong. In fact, there’s a perverse pleasure in watching someone relive the same events, especially once they begin to realize what’s going on, and on the heels of that realization, they find out they can’t do anything to stop it. Or can they? For many of the characters who encounter this plot device, the repeating day proves to have symbolic value, like a puzzle to be solved. Why this day? What is so significant about this day, and how can they end the infinite time loop? Continue reading

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HITTING SHELVES: Palaces by Simon Jacobs

Palaces by Simon Jacobs comes out today! It’s a debut novel about a young couple fleeing a violent and mysterious event, and it’s amazing. We asked the author how he’s celebrating.

It will mostly be a normal Tuesday: I’ll work my day job and then I’ll head to my weekly evening shift at Bluestockings, a volunteer-run bookstore and activist center on the Lower East Side, where I’ve worked for the last three years (and where I’ll also be launching Palaces the following weekend). I’ll wash dishes, serve coffee, work the register, and, if I’m lucky and the day’s deliveries are late, I’ll get to personally bring copies of Palaces out to the shelves. I will then cheerfully and unsubtly hand-sell them to customers for the rest of the evening.

Bluestockings has been one of my favorite parts about living in NYC. It’s nice to frequent a place where you could, say, teach yourself safe dumpster-diving habits on one end of the store and read up on class history or trans fiction on the other.

So much of my best, most eclectic reading over the past few years has come via chance encounters at Bluestockings: Imogen Binnie, Darcie Wilder, Achy Obejas, Inio Asano, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Margaret Killjoy. There aren’t many bookstores where you can find Routledge and Crimethinc and the Feminist Press all on the same shelf. Plus, your local anarchist bookstore/cafe/infoshop is a good place to be in a time of perpetual crisis: use this map to find one near you!

After my shift, we’ll have a good dinner and survey other area bookstores on foot for copies in the wild. I’ll walk by the building on Lafayette where David Bowie used to live, because I always do, and because all roads lead back to Bowie.

Simon Jacobs is the author of Saturn (Spork Press), a collection of David Bowie stories, and of Masterworks (Instar Books), a short story collection. His other fiction has appeared in Tin HouseBlack Warrior ReviewJoyland, and Paper Darts. He lives in New York City. Palaces is his first novel.

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Post-hope

Looking back at Martin Luther King, Jr.’s funeral, James Baldwin wrote: “One could scarcely be deluded by Americans anymore, one scarcely dared expect anything from the great, vast, blank generality; and yet one was compelled to demand of Americans—and for their sakes, after all—a generosity, a clarity, and a nobility which they did not dream of demanding of themselves.”

One might assume, seeing his language out of context, that Baldwin was taking stock of his despair in a nation that responded to Dr. King’s work with murder. But Baldwin was writing of the time before King’s death, and “the act of faith demanded by all those marches and petitions while Martin was still alive.” Continue reading

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Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Mandy Len Catron

Mandy Len Catron is the author of How To Fall In Love With Anyone: A Memoir in Essays. Originally from Appalachian Virginia, Catron now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, The Rumpus, and The Walrus, as well as literary journals and anthologies. Her essay for the New York Times Modern Love series (“To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This”) was one of the most popular articles published by the New York Times in 2015. Catron writes about love and love stories at The Love Story Project, and she teaches English and creative writing at the University of British Columbia. You can follow Catron on Twitter (@LenMandy), and on Instagram (@LenMandy) to see her drawings and photos of her dog, Roscoe.

EB: How did you begin writing in general and writing nonfiction specifically? Continue reading

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Did You Hear? A Day in the Life

Oh, I like this! I didn’t think I would, but it takes two over-the-top performers to pull off a reinterpretation of a melodramatic song like this. As much as I love the original, this version feels pretty fresh.

Brook Reeder

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STUNNING SENTENCES: Are You Questioning?

For my eleventh birthday, my father gave me Pablo Neruda’s The Book of Questions. The book is composed of 316 unanswerable questions, a mix of comic, surreal, poignant, and Orphic. “What color is the scent of the blue weeping of violets?” writes Neruda. “If I have died and don’t know it of whom do I ask the time?” “In what language does rain fall over tormented cities?”

Later, in my twenties, when I worked as a journalist, my job, essentially, was to ask questions. Perhaps those years as a newspaper reporter fine-tuned my ear for questions in fiction, because whenever I come across one, something shifts inside. The distance collapses between the protagonist and me, and I find myself standing alongside the character, pondering whatever question has been posed. It’s almost as if the character and I are in limbo, a point in which we are lost, either having risen to a hilltop of false promise or descended into existential despair. It’s a wonderful point in a story, because now it feels like the narrative could head an entirely new direction. Continue reading

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