Claire Messud’s “This Strange Eventful History”
Los Angeles Review of Books
by dandi
13h ago
Subscribe on Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud Do you love listening to the LARB Radio Hour? Support the production of this weekly podcast on books, art, and culture. Donate today. Medaya Ocher and Kate Wolf are joined by celebrated writer Claire Messud, the author of six works of fiction including the highly-acclaimed bestseller, The Emperor’s Children. Messud’s latest novel is This Strange Eventful History, which follows the Cassars, a Pied-Noir family from Algeria, who find themselves constantly displaced by the changing tides of history, first by World War II and then by Algerian indepe ..read more
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Fools Rush In: On Kenneth Anger’s “Scorpio Rising”
Los Angeles Review of Books
by LARB Intern
13h ago
IN HIS 1947 book Magic and Myth of the Movies, American film critic Parker Tyler describes filmmaking as being akin to mythmaking. Hollywood films, in his estimation, deal in archetypes, skating the lines of the popularly understood and pushing up against the intimate. It’s a position not dissimilar to that of director and author Kenneth Anger, who would describe moviemaking as analogous with spell-casting, dealing in the shaping of what people believe to be possible. The principal difference between the two positions, however, is telling. A myth may shape the contours of the world through hum ..read more
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Amour and Armour: A Conversation with Lyndsey Stonebridge
Los Angeles Review of Books
by Justin Gautreau
2d ago
SINCE THE PUBLICATION of Lyndsey Stonebridge’s latest book in January, We Are Free to Change the World: Hannah Arendt’s Lessons in Love and Disobedience, I’ve had the pleasure of dancing in and out of her book tour in London and Oxford. This interview is a part of our ongoing conversation. As we exchanged letters, we remained acutely aware of the fast-changing political situation: the rising death toll in Gaza, elections in the United Kingdom, the emergence of a mass global protest movement, and the long shadow cast by the impending US presidential election. At a time when our world is being r ..read more
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Quiet Please: On Anna Katharina Schaffner’s “Exhausted” and Byung-Chul Han’s “Vita Contemplativa”
Los Angeles Review of Books
by Justin Gautreau
2d ago
IT’S HARD TO TALK about the everyday malaises of advanced consumer societies—“overwork,” “hyperstimulation,” “burnout”—without calling forth a critique of the explicit and tacit contracts governing our economic, cultural, and psychic lives. Don’t these words contain an implicit anatomy of neoliberalism’s discontents, its unrelenting instrumentalism, torn social bonds, and moral indifference? And yet the same words are also ripe fodder for the perpetuation of existing arrangements, for the exploitation of our physical and mental vulnerability. Burnout, consumerism assures us, doesn’t require a ..read more
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The Moral Delusions of Patriotism: On Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s “War”
Los Angeles Review of Books
by Justin Gautreau
3d ago
IN A BASEMENT, a “dull light-colored wooden box” contained one of the most spectacular literary discoveries in France. Biographers of the controversial and enigmatic writer Louis-Ferdinand Céline had been searching for a series of manuscripts, written during World War II, that had been lost for nearly 70 years. On August 4, 2021, Le Monde published a three-page story on the author’s “rediscovered treasures.” It was hailed as the literary discovery of the past-century, with Céline biographer Émile Brami acclaiming it “an unprecedented event.” Threatened by the French Resistance in June 1944, C ..read more
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Dispelling the “Stink of Love”: On the Ken-ification of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s “Querelle”
Los Angeles Review of Books
by Justin Gautreau
3d ago
It is tremendously exciting to discover, at first slowly and then more and more forcefully, how this strange world with its own peculiar laws relates to our own subjective sense of reality, how it brings surprising truths to the surface of this subjective reality of ours by forcing us (and I am fully aware of the possible bathos in this) toward certain recognitions and decisions which, no matter how painful they may seem to be, bring us closer to our own lives. This also means that we get closer to our own identities. —R. W. Fassbinder, Querelle: The Film Book (1982) THIS SUMMER, the Criterion ..read more
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Does Criticism Still Matter?
Los Angeles Review of Books
by dandi
3d ago
Subscribe on Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud Do you love listening to the LARB Radio Hour? Support the production of this weekly podcast on books, art, and culture. Donate today. In this special episode, hosts Medaya Ocher, Kate Wolf, and Eric Newman debate an age-old question that’s being taken up in new ways amid an increasingly atomized landscape for thinking and writing about the literature and art that moves (as well as enervates) us. What does it mean for criticism to “matter”? And what indications do we have that it does beyond the measure of the marketplace? The hosts discuss what ..read more
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An Environment for Thinking: A Conversation with Elisa Gabbert
Los Angeles Review of Books
by dandi
4d ago
“ANYTHING YOU DO every day—that’s your life,” writes poet and essayist Elisa Gabbert in her new collection, Any Person Is the Only Self. Across 16 essays, Gabbert reveals that she has spent her life reading books. Whether she’s roasting Ray Bradbury, mourning Sylvia Plath, or marveling at the implausible details of Percy Shelley’s death, Gabbert’s work is searching and dialectical—always curious, never performatively clever. Any Person Is the Only Self is Gabbert’s seventh book, adding to an already impressive body of work that includes The Unreality of Memory (2020) and her wildly popular poe ..read more
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Dated and Dateless: On Susan Zakin and Brian Cullman’s “A Journal of the Plague Years”
Los Angeles Review of Books
by dandi
4d ago
FRESHMAN YEAR of college, I decided to join a choir during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even separated across a screen, singing into straws to minimize the noise, I found myself looking forward to my virtual choir rehearsals. They did provide connection, from checking in with people I had never met in person to watching all those muted screens singing the same thing as me, somewhere out there in the world. We even had virtual concerts, compilations of individual recordings assembled into something resembling a choir. We all had to find new ways to connect during the pandemic, from virt ..read more
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Bella Baxter and the Machine: On Yorgos Lanthimos’s “Poor Things” and Julie Wosk’s “Artificial Women”
Los Angeles Review of Books
by dandi
5d ago
IT SEEMS NO coincidence that Yorgos Lanthimos’s cinematic rendition of Alasdair Gray’s 1992 novel Poor Things, released at the end of 2023, would come at a time of obsessive commentary about the possibilities and threats of AI. While Lanthimos’s movie has nothing, ostensibly, to say about digital technologies (beyond its own production process), the publication this year of Julie Wosk’s Artificial Women: Sex Dolls, Robot Caregivers, and More Facsimile Females provides a context for considering the potential of the film in the public imaginary. Wosk’s study explores the construction of artifici ..read more
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