Tag Archives: Review

The Boomstick Film Club: Fish Tank

Watch it with us: Tubi.tv

Fish Tank is a real punch in the gut, in a good way. I went into the film looking for answers to two questions. First, what did director Andrea Arnold accomplish by casting Katie Jarvis, a teenager with no prior acting experience, as her lead? Second, what’s the significance of the title? I think I found answers to both, but like all great works of art, Fish Tank leaves room for interpretation. It’s not an easy sit, but it’s riveting in the moment and tough to shake afterward.

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The Boomstick Film Club: And Then There Were None

Watch it with us: Amazon Prime, Tubi.tv

The Agatha Christie novel And Then There Were None was simultaneously one of my best and worst reading experiences of all time. I was thirteen and it was my first murder mystery—I had purchased it through my school’s book order, if I remember right. I settled in to read it before bed and ended up staying awake until 2 a.m. so I could finish it, completely out of my mind with terror. It was such an unnerving experience that I didn’t go near a murder mystery again for a couple of years. The premise is uniquely effective: ten people arrive at a mysterious house on a deserted island, and one by one they begin dying off. Now that it’s been twenty-plus years and I have somewhat recovered my wits since that night in seventh grade, I couldn’t wait to see how René Clair’s adaptation of this pivotal (for me) novel capitalizes on the book’s structure. Continue reading

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The Post-Apocalypse Gets Weird: Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

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“Mord destroyed and reimagined our broken city for reasons known only to him, yet he also replenished it in his thoughtless way.” So thinks Rachel, the protagonist of Borne, as she climbs the side of Mord, a giant bear, braving his “ropy, dirt-bathed fur, foul with carrion and chemicals” in search of food or biotech treasure that’s stuck to him. Those are the thoughtless replenishments he provides. Instead, she finds a fist-sized organism that resembles a sea anemone. She takes it back to the crumbling apartment building where she lives, deciding on the way home that it’s a he and its name is Borne. Her partner and lover, Wick, is unhappy about Borne’s presence—an outcast biotech scientist, Wick recognizes a threat when he sees one—but he grudgingly allows what he’s powerless to stop. Borne already has a hold on Rachel’s heart. Continue reading

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How I Injured Myself Reading Elif Batuman’s The Idiot

I’m an idiot. I know this. I was even more of an idiot back in college and I don’t like being reminded of this fact. So I admit I was hesitant when I picked up a copy of Elif Batuman’s The Idiot. I feared the narrator Selin and I had too much in common for us to ever get along. Like Selin, I’d fallen for a man via email while in college. Like her, I’d gone on to teach English in another country. Like her, I was trying (“doomed”) to be a writer. Unlike her, I didn’t go to Harvard. We were off to a shaky start.

I wasn’t entirely wrong. In some ways, following a year in the life of Selin was like reliving the prime of my idiocy, the crème de la crème of my naivety.

It’s strange how much I enjoyed it. Continue reading

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The Boomstick Film Club: Always Shine

Watch it with us: Letterboxd

One of the great things about Letterboxd (which I am not shilling for, I just love their site and wish everyone would use it so I would know what all my friends are watching) is its list functionality—users can make lists of movies on any topic. When I logged Always Shine (2016) this morning and saw that it appears on the list “movies where female friendships are the scariest concept on earth,” along with forty other movies, I was surprised more by the frequency with which female friendship is the center of a film than by the fact that it turns toxic so often. There’s something inherently dangerous about women becoming close friends, and filmmakers love to let their imaginations run wild with the myriad ways these friendships can combust. Continue reading

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HITTING SHELVES #42: Exes by Max Winter

Exes by Max Winter comes out today! It’s a heartbreaking, hilarious novel-in-fragments, in which Clay Blackall compiles the stories of longtime residents of Providence, Rhode Island, in an attempt to understand his brother Eli’s death and the city that has defined and ruined them both.

Fiction Advocate: Max! How are you celebrating the publication of Exes?

Max Winter: I guess I already did? Because even though Exes’ official release date is April 11, Amazon shipped their copies two weeks early, which completely caught me off guard. (But I worked media retail in the pre-Internet Age, when these dates were inviolate. Except for the new Sinatra box when Liv Tyler or Richard Hell were asking.) It felt thrilling, of course—knowing the book was finally in readers’ hands—but because my author’s copies hadn’t even arrived yet, it also felt an awful lot like having blacked out at a wedding. “Ohmygod, you don’t remember? You were so funny and/or mean!”

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