June 5, 2013

Goodbye, Maxwell’s: On the Demise of Hoboken and Places Like It 23


Nostalgic locals are replaced by the hipster vanguard; the hipster vanguard is replaced again. To the young newcomers who didn’t grow up here, there’s little reason to care: Hoboken is said to boast more bars per capita than any other American city.

June 4, 2013

Bearing the Burden: The Moral Cost of a Professional Army 1


Fire and Forget, written by veterans (and one Army wife), stands as the best fictional account of the wars of the last decade and the contemporary military experience, and as such, is utterly damning of the devil’s bargain the nation and its military have entered into.

June 3, 2013

Will Kindle Worlds Commodify Fan Fiction? 1


Kindle Worlds might seem like a vast step up for your average fanfic writer, the best of whom are paid in praise alone. If it didn’t feel like such a fundamental and remotely insulting misunderstanding of fan culture, if it didn’t feel like a prime chance for corporations to exploit rather than promote, I might even praise Amazon.

May 22, 2013

Nothing Funnier Than Unhappiness: A Necessarily Ill-Informed Argument for Flann O’Brien’s The Poor Mouth as the Funniest Book Ever Written 9


Here’s how funny it is: It’s funnier than A Confederacy of Dunces. It’s funnier than Money or Lucky Jim. It beats Shalom Auslander to a bloody, chuckling pulp with his own funny-bone. It is certainly the funniest book I’ve ever read.

May 20, 2013

George Saunders and the Question of Greatness 14


The hype surrounding George Saunders’s Tenth of December in the early days of the calendar year was kind of staggering. The backlash followed not long afterwards, when it was suggested that someone who can’t seem to accrue enough pages to pen the Great American Novel couldn’t actually be considered the writer of our time. This makes me cringe — maybe because I’m beginning to suspect that it’s true.

May 15, 2013

Still Merry and Bright? Rethinking Henry Miller 8


Few possess Miller’s courage, his willingness to walk away from the American dream and embrace a life without hope. Fewer still manage to be what Miller claimed to be in the face of hopelessness – always merry and bright.

May 9, 2013

The Black and the White: Maus and the Art Spiegelman Exhibit 1


Born from universal ideas, crafted by the hands of artists, written with passion, the comic strip has become the medium for narratives that can be read again and again and images that can be stared at pensively in the hushed space of a museum.

May 8, 2013

The Superhero Factory: An Unauthorized Corporate History of Marvel Comics 4


Sean Howe covers the entire history of Marvel, from 1939 to Disney’s acquisition of the company 70 years later. The book has few heroes and villains, only figures who, with varying degrees of success and failure, negotiate the politics of a large enterprise for their own wants and needs. It’s a portrait of what capitalism can create and what it can’t create — and what it can destroy.

May 6, 2013

So That If I Died It Mattered 31


When asked to explain my choices, I’ve said, “Art is how you explain what it feels like to be alive in the 21st century. I am an emotional historian.” But that’s really my answer to, “Why should we all make art?” My why is more personal.

May 2, 2013

On the Fall of the House of Orwell 16


Orwell’s birth home has languished in dilapidation for decades. Damaged by an earthquake in 1934, it deteriorated into a derelict building that stray animals sheltered in at night or during inclement weather. The homeless also used it; it became a place for people to gather to drink and gamble.