1. “Dave Eggers’s ’The Alaska of Giants and Gods.’” The author’s short story concerns a woman who shows up in Alaska with her two kids, determined to find someone bold, someone of substance.
“She’d piled them into this rented R.V. and driven off, no plan in mind. The manufacturers had named the vehicle the Chateau, but that was thirty years ago, and now it was falling apart and dangerous to its passengers and to all who shared the highway with it. But after a day on the road her kids seemed fine with the crumbling machine, the close quarters, the chaos. Her kids were strange but good. There was Paul, seven years old, a gentle, slow-moving boy with the cold caring eyes of an ice priest. He was far more reasonable and kind and wise than his mother, but then there was Ana, only four, a constant threat to the social contract. She was a black-eyed animal with a burst of irrationally red hair and a knack for assessing the most breakable object in any room and then breaking it.”
2. ”All-American Girl at 20.” For the Los Angeles Review of Books, E. Alex Jung on the evolution of Asian Americans on TV.
“After all, if race is a structure through which we relate to one another, this setup prevents us from imagining a world where whiteness doesn’t dominate the frame. [The Mindy Project’s] Dr. Lahiri’s ethnicity is always something negative—a misperception to be corrected, something unruly to be managed. It is something that gets in the way of her personhood. Her character joked that the reason why her driver’s license lists her as blonde and blue-eyed is because she thinks it should be ’aspirational.’ The show takes this sensibility to heart. This is why, as heavy-handed as it may be, it’s important to point out that Dr. Lahiri has only dated white men on the show (seriously, here’s a list), because dating white and wealthy is the ultimate form of wish fulfillment.”
3. ”Hou Hsiao-hsien, Anthologized.” For Fandor, Michael Pattison on how Hou’s cinema is, like Taiwan itself, created from aesthetic flux and assimilation, cultural openness and deep sensitivity.
“That there are no less than ninety-nine film stills used to illustrate the thirty-three-page introduction to Hou Hsiao-hsien, the first English-language critical anthology published on the Taiwanese filmmaker, indicates just how ’visual’ the director’s style is. All films are definitionally ’visual,’ of course, but as is repeatedly argued in this insightful tome, Hou’s cinema seems to be exceptionally so: since making his debut feature Cute Girl in 1980, he has continued to consciously set new challenges for himself and his cinematographers, resulting in visually interpretable works of staggering image density and cinematographic depth. Collecting and editing a volume such as this is no easy task; to his credit, Richard I. Suchenski has amassed a body of essays from critics, academics and Hou’s collaborators that is as insightful about Taiwan as it is about the director’s working methods.”
4. “A Better Way to Think About the Genre Debate.” For The New Yorker, Joshua Rothman talks in a clear-headed way about genre and Station Eleven.
“Station Eleven, in other words, turns out not to be a genre novel so much as a novel about genre. Unlike Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, which asked what would remain after the collapse of culture, Station Eleven asks how culture gets put together again. It imagines a future in which art, shorn of the distractions of celebrity, pedigree, and class, might find a new equilibrium. The old distinctions could be forgotten; a comic book could be as influential as Shakespeare. It’s hard to imagine a novel more perfectly suited, in both form and content, to this literary moment. For a while now, it’s looked as though we might be headed toward a total collapse of the genre system. We’ve already been contemplating the genre apocalypse that Station Eleven imagines.”
5. “Everybody Must Get Stoned.” For Film Comment, Howard Hampton on Inherent Vice.
“Warning: viewers of Paul Thomas Anderson’s exacting, faithful, remarkably personalized, and occasionally unbalanced adaptation of Inherent Vice could experience an array of side effects. This rapid-fire yet meditatively paced channeling of Thomas Pynchon’s psychedelic private-eye novel may induce symptoms including but not limited to: acid-wash flashbacks, secondary potheadiness, disconsolate erections, feverish irony, confounded expectations, involuntary double-takes, and euphoric disorientation. (Extreme hairstyles on display may also trigger PTSD episodes.) Consult your local astrologer if symptoms persist…”
Video of the Day: Dan Gilroy and Jake Gyllenhaal on Charlie Rose:
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