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Reflections in a Quilt: John McPhee’s The Patch

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Reflections in a Quilt: John McPhee’s The Patch
Reflections in a Quilt: John McPhee’s The Patch

“But beyond the flaring headlines of the past year, few are aware of who Richard Burton really is, what he has done, and what he is throwing away by gulping down his past and then smashing the glass.” This is one of those quotes, which, through its sheer heft and style, threatens to turn any accompanying review into a redundancy. To find other lines that meet its towering standard, seek its source: The Patch by John McPhee. There’s no shortage of arresting remarks in this nicely heterogeneous collection of writing. One sinks into the book, riveted, but also races across it as its fascinations multiply.

The first section is called “The Sporting Scene.” Those typically uninterested in sports or sports writing, like myself, shouldn’t be deterred by the title. As I discovered through other recent encounters with McPhee’s ballyhooed writing, the author has a knack for inexorably moving readers beyond their biases. Two-part New Yorker articles like “Oranges,” “The Pine Barrens,” and “Basin and Range,” which were later turned into books, are studious and propulsive. Fine-grained matters of geology or citrus aren’t exactly simplified in these articles, but wading through the density becomes an irresistible prospect thanks to the author’s intelligibility, wit, enthusiasm, and atmospheric touches. For an example of the latter, consider McPhee’s focus on the “unnatural and all but unending silence” of the Floridian orange groves that he visited. What’s more, he often conveys a certain sense of respectful understanding, as when he mentions that he has “yet to meet anyone living in the Pine Barrens who has in any way indicated envy of people who live elsewhere.”

The 10 Most-Read Slant Articles of 2018

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The 10 Most-Read Slant Articles of 2018

Rockstar Games

The 10 Most-Read Slant Articles of 2018

Like last year, it wasn’t the most highly praised or viciously excoriated film, album, or TV show that garnered the most attention among Slant readers in 2018. It was a so-called “average” star rating of a video game that led to our most-read—or, rather, looked at—article of the year. More predictably, lists proved to be increasingly popular, particularly among cinephiles. Aside from a few pieces that didn’t make the cut—like our career-spanning interview with Jodie Foster and our five-star review of Synapse Films’s Blu-ray restoration of the original Suspiria—this list comprises pretty much everything we do best. Alexa Camp
 

Top 10 Radiohead Music Videos

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Top 10 Radiohead Music Videos

Alex Lake/Nasty Little Man

Top 10 Radiohead Music Videos

Editors’ Note: This article was originally published on July 24, 2013.

Twenty-five years ago, the world was introduced to Radiohead by way of their debut single, “Creep.” Thom Yorke and company may have soured to their very first modern rock hit, but as we said in our list of the Best Singles of the 1990s, for which the song ranked at #37, “Creep” is rivaled only by “Every Breath You Take” as the ultimate kind-of-obsessive/kind-of-romantic crush anthem, with guitarist Jonny Greenwood’s perfectly timed blasts of electricity turning it from slightly creepy to threatening. The track peaked on the Billboard pop chart in September of 1993, a full year after its initial release, and Radiohead would go on to become one of the most influential bands in rock history. To celebrate the band’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, we take a look back at their best and most innovative music videos.

Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2018

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Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2018

Grasshopper Film

Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2018

From Chuck Bowen’s introduction to Slant Magazine‘s Top 25 Films of 2018: “Film critics find themselves in an exhilarating and frustrating situation: Cinema keeps getting better—more formally adventurous, auto-critical, and responsive to the chaos of the society that yields it—but at the price of being less and less seen. This was a banner year for cinema, but how many of the films below have been able to penetrate Disney’s essential monopoly on the mainstream populace’s adulation? Yet perhaps this widening gulf between artisan films and pop culture at large is benefiting the former. With a certain portion of studio filmmaking that’s essentially incapable of losing money in place, and with streaming sites that are voraciously in need of ‘content,’ other films are emboldened to be themselves and to follow their creators’ obsessions into increasingly wild-and-wooly places.” Click here to read the feature and see if your favorite films of the year made our list. And see below for a list of the films that just missed making it onto our list, followed by our contributors’ individual ballots.

Ariana Grande Conceives Instagram-Perfect Romance on “Imagine”

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Ariana Grande Conceives Instagram-Perfect Romance on “Imagine”

Republic Records

Ariana Grande Conceives Instagram-Perfect Romance on “Imagine”

Ariana Grande continued her vie for world dominance when, late last night, she released “Imagine,” another new song from her upcoming album, Thank U, Next. The pop singer took to Twitter earlier this week to answer fans’ questions about the promotional track, suggesting that it will “balance the energy” between the album’s hit title song and the next single, “7 Rings.”

Review: Edmond Baudoin’s Piero and Olivier Schrauwen’s Parallel Lives

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Review: Edmond Baudoin’s Piero and Olivier Schrauwen’s Parallel Lives
Review: Edmond Baudoin’s Piero and Olivier Schrauwen’s Parallel Lives

There’s a Chinese calligraphic tradition called Dishu, which is commonly practiced in the parks of Beijing, among other locations. Its salient elements include brushstrokes of water and the use of the ground as a canvas. It’s been well documented by François Chastanet, and, it turns out, well appreciated by Edmond Baudoin, the noted French artist. Baudoin once observed it firsthand, as he recounts in Laetitia Carton’s documentary Edmond, a Portrait of Baudoin. “And as he wrote,” he exclaims therein, “the trace was vanishing!” For Baudoin, the activity expresses “the philosophical relationship between permanence and the ephemeral.”

A fascination with ephemerality also comes through in Baudoin’s 1998 graphic memoir Piero, whose new edition features an English translation by Matt Madden and lettering by Dean Sudarsky. The book is titled after the author’s younger brother, with whom he spent a childhood immersed in numerous imaginative escapades in Nice and Villars-sur-Var. Those experiences are among Piero‘s key recollections, the tone of which is established by an initial pen sketch of a plane tree and its descending leaves. The image’s inky pools of black collide with tangles of line work to suggest the vague contours of memory.

The Road Not Taken: Yukiko Motoya’s The Lonesome Bodybuilder

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The Road Not Taken: Yukiko Motoya’s The Lonesome Bodybuilder
The Road Not Taken: Yukiko Motoya’s The Lonesome Bodybuilder

“My mission is to stay as free and unfettered as possible.” Yukiko Motoya so commented on her career and creative process during an interview for Granta. The course of that career certainly indicates a restless curiosity. Motoya was born in snowy Ishikawa Prefecture on the Sea of Japan but later set out for Tokyo, where she completed an acting course and worked as a voice actor for a spell before deciding to zero in on writing novels and plays.

Motoya founded her own theater company and has also set aside time for various other endeavors, like hosting a radio show and a televised documentary series. Her varied work has resulted in numerous accolades, and, most recently, the release of The Lonesome Bodybuilder, the first book-length English translation of her fiction. Asa Yoneda, the book’s translator, has signal-boosted a story collection whose off-kilter style strenuously upholds Motoya’s stated mission.

Chasing Ghosts David Grann’s The White Darkness

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Chasing Ghosts: David Grann’s The White Darkness
Chasing Ghosts: David Grann’s The White Darkness

There’s a ghostly quality to much of David Grann’s nonfiction. It manifests variously, trailing annihilations both concrete and abstract. He’s written about seekers who became phantasmal figures, to differing extents, in the lives of their loved ones. In Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, he details a murderous conspiracy that targeted the Osage Nation in the early 20th century. In his New Yorker essay “Trial by Fire,” he reports on a man who, after being placed on death row through flimsy evidence, sensed “that his life was slowly being erased.” And there’s also, among other examples, “A Murder Foretold,” Grann’s piece about a Guatemalan lawyer’s response to the murder of his fiancé and her father. We learn that the lawyer pored over surveillance footage of the moments preceding the crime. At one point, he longingly “touched the television screen—she was there but not there.”

That gesture is faintly echoed in Grann’s latest book, The White Darkness. In 2003, Henry Worsley, the book’s subject, traveled to the gravesite of Ernest Shackleton, the polar explorer. Upon arriving, he extended his hand toward the tombstone. Worsley, who served in the British army and completed two tours with the Special Air Service, regarded Shackleton as a hero. In order to reach the gravesite, he traveled to the far shores of South Georgia Island in the southern Atlantic Ocean. And he would, in the years that followed, travel farther still. In 2008, after much preparation, he began his first expedition across Antarctica. And he later decided to attempt two more.

Bright Light Bright Light Brings Tough Love to the East Coast

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Bright Light Bright Light Brings Tough Love to the East Coast

Bright Light Bright Light

Bright Light Bright Light Brings Tough Love to the East Coast

Following tour dates in Europe and the West Coast in support of his new EP, Tough Love, Bright Light Bright Light—nom de disque of Welsh-born, New York-based singer-songwriter Rod Thomas—is bringing his Tough Love Tour to the East Coast. The final leg of the tour kicks off tomorrow in Philadelphia, followed by performances in Washington D.C., Cambridge, Toronto, and New York City.

Ariana Grande Embraces Serial Monogamy on Single “Thank U, Next”

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Ariana Grande Embraces Serial Monogamy on Single “Thank U, Next”
Ariana Grande Embraces Serial Monogamy on Single “Thank U, Next”

In the two-and-a-half short months since Ariana Grande released her fourth album, Sweetener, the pop princess broke off her engagement with Pete Davidson and mourned the passing of ex-boyfriend Mac Miller. Most artists might lay low in the wake of such loss, but Grande is already working on a new album, reportedly titled Thank U, Next.