Movie Drinking Game #1: The Enemy of My Enemy

Drink every time an antagonist becomes an ally.

The movie that made me fall in love with this trope is The Fugitive. We’re rooting for Dr. Kimble (Harrison Ford) from the beginning since we know he’s innocent, so Deputy Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones) seems like the obvious villain as soon as he gives his famous speech about searching for Dr. Kimble in every “warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse, and doghouse.” But gradually we find ourselves rooting for Deputy Gerard as well, almost against our will. He’s a good man who’s doing a good job of trying to catch Dr. Kimble, and even though we don’t want that to happen, we admire his integrity and savvy. What makes this trope so satisfying is the moment you realize you’re actually supposed to feel this way, that the film has been leading you this direction all along without making it obvious that Gerard is actually a good guy. For me this happens when Gerard and his team start to put the pieces together about the one-armed man–we know him so well by this point that we trust him to do the right thing with this information and bring the right man to justice. Continue reading

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HITTING SHELVES #49: Motherest by Kristen Iskandrian

Motherest by Kristen Iskandrian comes out today! It’s a dark and moving coming-of-age novel in which Agnes, a college student in the 1990s grappling with a broken home and a seriously fucked-up campus life, writes letters to her mother, who has seemingly disappeared. We asked Kristen Iskandrian how she’s celebrating the book’s release.

I’m having a book launch on August 1, the day of publication, which feels like the precisely right exclamation point. My good friends and neighbors Chip Brantley and Elizabeth Hughey own and run an after-school creative writing center called Desert Island Supply Co., which is such a beautiful, unique space—a former apothecary, I think—very close to my house. They kindly offered to host, and I really can’t think of a better place to celebrate, to sort of ceremoniously let go of this thing that has been only mine for so long, and pass it into other people’s hands. I’ll give a reading, possibly answer some questions, sign some books, and then hopefully just hang out with family and friends and anyone else who wants to come say hi. Continue reading

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What to Read in August

The Book of Emma Reyes by Emma Reyes: “This astonishing memoir was hailed as an instant classic when first published in Colombia in 2012, nearly a decade after the death of its author, who was encouraged in her writing by Gabriel García Márquez. Comprised of letters written over the course of thirty years, and translated and introduced by acclaimed writer Daniel Alarcón, it describes in vivid, painterly detail the remarkable courage and limitless imagination of a young girl growing up with nothing.”

The Future Won’t Be Long by Jarrett Kobek: “When Adeline, a wealthy art student, chances upon a young man from the Midwest known only as Baby in a shady East Village squat, the two begin a fiery friendship that propels them through a decade of New York life. Riotously funny and wise, The Future Won’t Be Long is an ecstatic, propulsive novel coursing with a rare vitality, an elegy to New York and to the relationships that have the power to change—and save—our lives.”

After Kathy Acker by Chris Kraus: “Rich girl, street punk, lost girl and icon… scholar, stripper, victim, and media-whore: The late Kathy Acker’s legend and writings are wrapped in mythologies, created mostly by Acker herself. Twenty years after her death, Acker’s legend has faded, making her writing more legible.In this first, fully authorized, biography, Chris Kraus approaches Acker both as a writer and as a member of the artistic communities from which she emerged.”

Also this month: We’ll interview Miranda K. Pennington and Philip Boehm, review Since I Laid My Burden Down and Some Bright Morning I’ll Fly Away, and probably talk some shit about Jonathan Dee’s new novel.

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Did You Hear? Life of the Liar

I love this track–it’s got a late-70s Elvis Costello / John Lennon feel to it, and it manages to cram a lot of layered instruments into a seamless mix. Great chord changes, an awesome woody bass line, a synth, an accordion, some trumpets… can’t go wrong!

This track is one of 64 that were written by the band to each represent one hexagram of the I Ching… 30 have been released so far.

Brook Reeder

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This Poet Says Elton John Is a Church

In his first book of… not poetry, Michael Robbins, author of Alien vs. Predator and The Second Sex, makes an extended argument about the connections between poetry and pop music.

A pop song is a popular song, one that some ideal “everybody” knows or could know. Its form lends itself to communal participation. Or, stronger, it depends upon the possibility of communal participation for its full effect.

Of course, being a poet, he’s cynical as hell. He says poetry is nothing more than a “sad and angry consolation.” Continue reading


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Rebel in the Rye: Official Trailer

Just a few days after the 66th anniversary of The Catcher in the Rye, IFC Films released the official trailer for the unfortunately titled “Rebel in the Rye.” The feature-length movie covers J.D. Salinger’s early writing life and the creation of his most famous character. Starring Nicholas Hoult, who also plays X-Men’s Beast, another nerd who’s blue as hell, “Rebel” was adapted from Kenneth Slawenski’s J.D. Salinger: A Life by Danny Strong. Strong helped create the hit show “Empire,” and penned Lee Daniels’ “The Butler,” and is one of those actors you see in a lot of other shows and movies.

Previous film treatments of Salinger have all basically sucked — everything from the 2013 documentary that Slate call “No goddam good,” (the book it was based on sucked too), all the way back to 1950, when Samuel Goldwyn released “My Foolish Heart,” a film adaptation of the short story “Uncle Wiggly in Connecticut.” The movie was sappy enough to turn Salinger away from adaptations for the rest of his natural life, even though it did have a nice song in it.

Given this ignominious history, I am deeply skeptical of any and all Salinger projects. But I admit to being seduced by the polish and drama of the “Rebel” preview. Salinger would definitely hate it and Holden would probably never stop puking, and I’m confident that the storytelling tramples over the complicated history of the book in service of orchestra swells and climactic realizations. I also have my doubts that Whit Burnett, one of Salinger’s early teachers and fiction advocates, was a wryly sassy as Kevin Spacey. But at the very least, I like the idea of a novel inspiring Hollywood-level drama, and I’m still interested in seeing what Strong and team have come up with.

One early review calls the movie “watchable.” All will be revealed on September 15, when “Rebel in the Rye” hits theaters.

In the meantime, if you want to know more about the development of Holden Caulfield and Catcher, we’ve got you covered.

-Michael Moats

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