I’m happy to recommend that you read Benjamin Percy’s Red Moon — but, well… I’ll get to that.
Red Moon is a smart variation on the theme, extremely popular of late, of bringing childhood heroes and monsters into adult life. Rather than a gritty Batman wrestling with the morality of vigilante justice, or emo vampires wrestling with awful dialogue, we have werewolves, and the many ways that their existence would spread turmoil in normal civic dynamics. Continue reading
New music! (Sometimes old music.) Music that we love!
Get your head noddin’ ready. This week we’re headed back to 2002, when the talent of Mr. Chris Corner culminated in a terrific trip-hop album called Bloodsport. I think it’s the juxtaposition of the electronic style with organic-sounding acoustic guitar and bass tracks that makes this track work for me, not to mention the ridiculously catchy hook. Detail-oriented listeners, take a listen to the four-bar intro before the vocals come in: what a great setup. I always feel like a good intro sets down all of the rules for the song–it lets you know what you’re in for, and how to interact with what’s coming. By those first four bars, you know this will be a guitar-driven song (but he’s going to mess with it), as those little ‘chunka’ notes establish the funky syncopation.
Great, now this is going to be in my head all weekend.
- Brook Reeder
If you read only one thing this week, make it Alice Gregory’s essay on big-wave surfing in n+1. And then let’s talk about it. Because damn. This is a good essay.
Reporting from the scene at Mavericks, the colossal wave that occasionally breaks along the California coast and kills some of the world’s best surfers, Gregory displays a talent for articulating the impossibility of articulating her subject.
Surfers have the odd habit of saying “I drowned” when they mean “I almost drowned.” Drowning, after all, feels like almost drowning until it feels like nothing. When I ask Dollar to explain the sensation of almost drowning, his answer, and the way he holds his face as he says it, makes me feel that the question is an intrusive one. “It’s just depressing and lonely,” he says, not making eye contact. “The lights start turning off, literally. It blinks in your mind and goes black. Pretty soon, it’s just lights out and you’re done.” He pauses awkwardly. “It’s really fucking weird.”
In the process she explains why surfers talk they’re like stoned.
I realize we’ve used Garry Wills before, but there really is no better book to read on the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. It’s almost certainly the finest book ever written about one of the finest speeches ever given.
- Michael Moats
Am I the only person who was totally creeped out by the Batkid event in San Francisco on Friday? On the surface it was a good thing: kid plays a game, world briefly remembers what it’s like to feel emotions, The End. But if you look any deeper, it was profoundly unsettling.
First, no one seemed to care that the event was one giant commercial. The Batman oeuvre is owned by Time Warner. To the extent that Time Warner endorsed the Batkid event, it was a marketing ploy. To the extent that they didn’t, it was even more icky—did a whole city just volunteer to promote a corporate product? We might as well have been celebrating one adorable little boy’s overwhelming love of Pine-Sol.
The Critical Hit Awards are back!
Emily St. John Mandel of The Millions tells us how she got her absolutely badass middle name, and why Franzen, DFW’s ex-wife, and a wrongfully murdered black teenager are the subjects of her favorite recent book reviews.
See all the winners here.
- Brian Hurley
From the late 1970s to the early 1990s, the San Francisco Chronicle did the unthinkable and printed serialized fiction in a major American newspaper. Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin featured a cast of characters who embodied the social diversity of the day—they smoked marijuana, were gay or bisexual, had fledgling careers or family fortunes, and managed to trip all over each other in pursuit of the good life. Nothing much was at stake, and the writing was as two-dimensional as a picture postcard, but Maupin understood that San Francisco would be spellbound by a modern fairy tale about itself. Tales of the City was adapted into eight novels, three TV series, and a number of musicals.
Well, they’re at it again. Click City, a new fiction series launched by the Chronicle this week, focuses on the lives of tech millionaires, PR managers, cyclists, and hackers, who live in communes to save on rent. Which sounds about right. It also sounds trivial and on-the-nose and depressing as hell. (Episode 1: “Silicon Valley titan Roger struggles to adjust to his new S.F. digs – and the customs of young Mission dwellers.”) The author, Heather Stallings, is described as a former CPA with experience in investment banking. Maybe forty years from now I’ll be able to enjoy Click City for the light satire that it is. For now, as a local resident, it makes me feel flattened like a postcard.
- Brian Hurley
We don’t often burden you with personal updates here at Fiction Advocate. Co-editor Michael Moats never made an announcement about his trip to the desert in a converted school bus and the mind-altering experiments he conducted with lizard blood and static electricity. Art Director Matt Tanner didn’t brag about his miraculous recovery from a flesh-eating Brazilian fungus. But I have some personal news that might be germane to fiction and its advocacy. I am now the Books Editor at The Rumpus.
The Rumpus, if you don’t know, is one of the best literary web sites of all time. I am mostly running the book reviews section. No big deal. People are sending me all kinds of free stuff, like a copy of J.J. Abrams’ new novel. Oh hello, J.J. Abrams. Have a seat. I’ll get to you eventually.
Point is, I’ll be drawing your attention to The Rumpus from time to time, especially the best of the book reviews that we publish. Like Lauren O’Neal’s observant take on a debut collection from a brand new press. Or Chris Lites’ entertaining review of a major new sci-fi novel. Or Kyle Boelte’s deeply felt response to a book by David Foster Wallace’s ex-wife. Stuff like that.
Just be glad we’re not bombarding you with updates about intern Tony Schaffer’s Wham! cover band.
- Brian Hurley