8 Days, Sky Atlantic
Short Story Collection:
The Cartography of Others, Catherine McNamara (Unbound, soon to be published in Greek by Strangedaysbooks)
Ghosts of You, Cathy Ulrich (Okay Donkey Press)
Almost a Dream, Astra Papachristodoulou (Sampson Low)
Short Story Online:
“The fly, the spider, the bird, the cat, the dog, the hog, the goat, the cow, the horse, the bear, the elephant, the whale“, Christopher James on Atticus Review
“Mr. One-Liner“, Andre Lepine on Active Muse
“The Sadness Scale, As Measured by Stars and Whales“, Paul Crenshaw on Qu literary magazine
8 days (8 tage), Sky
Stumbling On Concrete, Only One Spoon & Atlas Castle
Sisyphus, Andrew Bird
Famous Stupid Words and Definitions:
Middle-class are those who usually dress casually but wear a tie when required
—Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in his parliamentary speech on December 18th, 2019.
Stargazing (Guillemot Press), Astra Papachristodoulou
A beautifully designed book of perfectly composed experimental, minimalist poetry; a pleasure to hold, peruse, marvel at.
In the Dream House (Graywolf Press), Carmen Maria Machado
A book built on metaphor, pop culture references, harrowing revelations, Machado’s multifaceted construction is an inventive, painful tale of domestic abuse in a same-sex relationship.
Semicolon: The Past, Present, and Future of a Misunderstood Mark (HarperCollins), Cecelia Watson
A book about my favorite punctuation mark; praised by Mary Norris, the Comma Queen, in The New Yorker.
Befrois the Book (Dostoyevsky Wannabe Original)
Queen Mob’s Teahouse: Teh Book (Dostoyevsky Wannabe Original)
Both edited by Russell Bennetts. Dip into these tomes in 2020!
intense chapbooks of disquiet (The A3 Press)
From the folks who publish The A3 Review (a magazine that behaves like a map), eight chapbooks (which behave like maps), all published this year, each a gem:
30 Days w/o by Alan C. Smith
Tell the Bees by Sara Eddy
El Valle by Esteban Rodríguez
Palatable by Solange Leon Iriarte
The Unit by Jason Jackson
the abyss of the other by Cecilia Cavalieri
MASH by Lena Ziegler
My New Car by Alan Sincic
Essay: Creative Nonfiction:
“Jack and the Boss” (The Rumpus: Voices on Addiction), Nina Gaby
“I never drank to Bruce Springsteen. His early stuff makes me high enough. ‘Jungleland’ transports me to a past I never even had; I can’t breathe when I listen to it. The sax chills every time and I still wonder whatever happened to Rat and the barefoot girl.”
Flash Essay: Creative Nonfiction:
“Found, Again” (The Rupture), Renée E. D’Aoust
“Our black-and-tan dachshund Tootsie was five when we adopted her. Her breath smelled like a buffet of rotten meat, she needed three teeth pulled and surgery to remove bladder stones, and she was diagnosed morbidly obese. When Tootsie tried to jump up, she tipped over.”
Mark Leckey: O’ Magic Power of Bleakness
Tate Britain, London, United Kingdom
An entire gallery space transformed by The Turner Prize winner: a life-sized replica of a section of motorway bridge on the M53 near where Leckey grew up; the premiere of a new audio-visual installation Under Under, and two older works, Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore and Dream English Kid.
Pop-Up Gallery Neustadtstrasse 24a, Lucerne, Switzerland
London and Berlin based artists Daria and Julian Blum collaborated in the creation of videos, performance and soundscape in a multifaceted installation across two floors of a former Swiss galvanic plant and carpentry workshop. Yeah, my kids.
EEP Gallery, Berlin, Germany
A multimedia installation by London based photographer and researcher Krasimira Butseva, investigating history, memory and trauma related to forced labour camps under the former Bulgarian communist regime.
Megan Rapinoe. Obsessed by the power and success of the Women’s National Soccer Team, USA.
Pay us more.
Hate to Love:
I had to have one. Now I can’t fit my phone inside.
1/ This Beret.
2/ These glasses.
“Understand What Dub Is”, The Last Poets
Deforming Lobes, Ty Segall and Freedom Band
In the Viper’s Shadow, Prince Fatty.
First Taste, Ty Segall
The Recreation Room, Disrupt
High Anxiety, Oozing Wound
More Fyah, Mungo’s Hi-Fi x Eve Lazarus
Smells Funny, Hedvig Mollestad Trio
Sonic Citadel, Lightning Bolt
Adam Prescott Meets Joe Ariwa, Adam Prescott Meets Joe Ariwa.
Bandana, Freddie Gibbs and Madlib
Before You Begin, Sequoyah Murray
Mad Professor Meets Gaudi, Mad Professor Meets Gaudi.
Essaka Hoisa, WaqWaq Kingdom
Kiwanuka, Michael Kiwanuka
Purple Mountains, Purple Mountains.
Remixed, The Body
Ilana (The Creator), Mdou Moctar
Metaphysical Feedback, The Silence
Macumba Quebrada, Daniel Maunick
Woptober II, Gucci Mane
Crocodiles, Love Is Here
This Is How You Smile, Helado Negro
Songs of Aretha, Various Artists
Roots of Confusion Seeds of Joy, Major Stars
Hospital Lullabies., Mueran Humanos
One Of The Best Yet, Gang Starr
Light Paints A Way, Sundrugs
I Have To Feed Larry’s Hawk, Tim Presley’s White Fence
White Stuff, Royal Trux
Context, Eye Flys
The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake, Breece D’J Pancake.
Adios, Motherfucker: A Gentleman’s Progress Through Rock and Roll, Michael Ruffino
Last Seen Entering the Biltmore: Plays, Short Fiction, Poems 1975—2010, Gary Indiana
The Machine Stops, E.M. Forster
Niagara, Mary Woronov
Unveiling a Parallel, Alice Ilgenfritz Jones, Ella Merchant
The Suiciders, Travis Jeppesen
The Crazy Bunch, Willie Perdomo
Death Valley Superstars: Occasionally Fatal Adventures in Filmland, Duke Haney
MiDdLe ScHoOl DaNcE 2000, Jonathan Blake Fostar
Haunted Girlfriend, James Nulick
Three Month Fever: The Andrew Cunanan Story, Gary Indiana
Bomb Culture, Jeff Nuttall
Asylum, William B. Seabrook
Riots I Have Known, Ryan Chapman
The Eighth Tower: On Ultraterrestrials and the Superspectrum, John A. Keel
The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, James Hogg
Drug of Choice, Michael Crichton
Gone Tomorrow: A Novel, Gary Indiana
Good Morning, Midnight, Jean Rhys
Journeys Out of the Body: The Classic Work on Out-Of-Body Experience, Robert A. Monroe
The Village Sonnets: 1959-1962, Michael Lally
Impractical Uses of Cake, Jo-Ann Yeo, Singapore: Epigram, 2018.
Delayed Rays of a Star: A Novel, Amanda Lee Koe, London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019.
Power of Gentleness: Meditations on the Risk of Living, Anne Dufourmantelle, translated from the French by Katherine Payne & Vincent Sallé, with a foreword by Catherine Malabou. New York: Fordham University Press, 2018.
Complaint: Grievance among Friends. Avital Ronell, Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2018.
Postapocalyptic Intruder: Art, Consciousness, Sensation, Lamia Kosovic, Mauritus: LAP, 2017.
Terence Malick’s Unseeing Cinema: Memory, Time, and Audibility, James Batcho, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.
Le temps (qui passe ?), Étienne Klein, Paris: Bayard Éditions, 2013.
Story of a woman and her dowry, Yanyun Chen, Singapore: Grey Projects
Suaraku bukan dosamu (My voice is not your sin), Mysara Aljaru, Singapore: Objectifs
Sutures and Infinite Laughter. Ruben Pang, Milan: Primo Marella Gallery
Revolution Launderette 信念のメリーゴーランド , directed by Lam Li Shuen & Mark Chua, 2019
Women in Rage, directed by Yanyun Chen & Sara Chong, 2019
Haze, The Symbolic Order (Michael Kearney & Durnin Martin)
The Lathe (video single), A Talon Touches The Lake (Stephanie Hsueh, Dane Tan, Ruben Pang, and Adam Staley Groves) :
Object Lesson Space, curated by Qingyi Joella Kiu
So Far, curated by Christina J. Chua
turn around, BRXGHT XYXS, Rosebud Ben-Oni
Soft Science, Franny Choi
Short Story Collections:
Everything Inside, Edwidge Danticat
How to Love a Jamaican, Alexia Arthurs
Midsommar (the carnage!)
Succession Season 2 (BOAR ON THE FLOOR.)
Fleabag Season 2
MAGDALENE, FKA Twigs
(Honorable mentions: OK, Boomer and Baby Yoda)
Patrick and Mr. Ratburn of Arthur fame
LOOK AT THIS PHOTOGRAPH! (Swiftly disabled due to infringing upon Nickelback’s copyright.)
Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich vs. every other chicken sandwich.
Here is a list of ten things from 2019 that I still can’t stop thinking about even though it’s a whole new decade now.
Florence Pugh’s in that Midsommar scene. You know the one.
That guy’s face from Midsommar, the one who has those really evil-looking eyebrows. You know the one.
Movies (I promise it’s not Midsommar):
1917, I think. Also Us. I feel like I should add Booksmart to this list, but I haven’t seen it yet. I mean, it’s not like it’s my literal job to stay up to date on the zeitgeist and review movies. (It absolutely is.)
Cigarettes After Sex’s Cry (Thanks for all the tears, Greg.)
utterly obsessed with this american site that has confused mince with mincemeat, and created this abomination pic.twitter.com/Y31NqYGYrV
— Luke Bailey (@imbadatlife) December 9, 2019
Other than myself, it will have to be Greta Thunberg.
Favourite sweaty thing that happened to someone who owns a pizza chain:
Papa John’s former CEO John Schnatter in an interview WDRB News.
Favourite Lady Gaga meme:
so anyway, here are the questions from tony hawk’s 73 questions with the answers from lady gaga’s 73 questions pic.twitter.com/fl0pi2kIDB
— nicole boyce (@nicolewboyce) November 20, 2019
Favourite dog-related thing (oh man was this a hard one):
Wert der ferk pic.twitter.com/P11xwhnf2c
— Aussies Doing Things (@aussiesdointhgs) November 6, 2019
On that note — favourite bit of journalism:
Labradoodle creator says it’s his ‘life’s regret’, BBC
“The truth about wanting to die” by Anna Mehler Paperny
Zeny May D. Recidoro’s Top 10 Cats
1/ Black cat running over football field at MET Life Stadium, New York City
Photograph by: Emilee Chinn, Getty Images.
2/ Corn Cat
From Twitter user @tatuya01
3/ Cat makes friend with butterfly
From reddit user u/Wilden-Jager
4/ Creamy is worried (Wholesome Meme Cat)
5/ Cat standing up, funky face, with concerned friend.
6/ Leaping cat with wings and antennae drawn over by internet users
7/ Trans Rights Cat
From Twitter user @goblinkenny.
8/ Watermelon Prince Meme (Cat Surrounded by Watermelons)
From Twitter user Bilbo @thegoodcatboy
9/ Nobody-Helps-Me-In-This-Household Cat Meme
10/ Too Faced Cat Blush Meme (“Behind every successful woman is herself”)
From Instagram user Luna Lifted.
The Expanse, Syfy
Any casual observer would have to note that democracy has been in a bad sort for the last few years. This goes beyond any one country, any one party, any one personality. There are authoritarians in Moscow and Istanbul, Brasilia and Budapest, London and Washington. If some dreamt that the fall of the Soviet Union was a historical denouement, than the past decade has averred us of that fallacy. As a guide to the most perilous moment since arguably the 1930’s comes documentary filmmaker and author Astra Taylor’s indispensable Democracy May Not Exist, But We’ll Miss it When It’s Gone. Director of the provocative (and entertaining!) documentaries The Examined Life and Zizek! which were able to present academic philosophy and critical theory in an engaging manner, Taylor’s new book (and attendant film) look at the state of democracy in 2019, while providing an intellectual rubric to how we think about our current crisis. “Right now, many who question democracy do so out of disillusionment, fear, and outrage,” Taylor writes, citing “gridlock, corruption, unaccountable representatives, and a lack of meaningful alternatives.” What she makes clear is that she has no interest in simply enumerating the problems with the current state of representative democracy, but rather to contextualize and redeem that maligned word, to “remind us that we are part of a long, complex, and still-unfolding chronicle, whatever the day’s headlines might be whoever governs a country.”
As with last year, I’m going to mention a poem which I have yet to read, but that I want to get my hands on (also, I’m proud to say that I fulfilled my promise from 2018 to read Terrance Hayes’ American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin, and it was even more powerful than I’d assumed). This year I’m looking forward to (Berfrois contributor) Sandra Simonds’ epic Atopia. I’ve always found Simonds’ verse to be perceptive, illuminating, electric. Atopia promises to be in that vein, an account of American life in the late capitalist, pre-apocalyptic Anthropocene. Simond’s poem borrows from the vernacular of social media, the frantic and anxious idiom of our current dystopia, and filters it through an effusive prophetic voice. She is a bard for our current fallen moment, the America of frantic push notification and mass murder, the America of caged children and of endless Twitter streams. “Tallahassee. Tallahassee. Tallahassee… here we are together again, walking in a park/that honors dead children. A tree planted for each child/on such a mild day in December. And how the dead/children stream through me, scrolls of them.”
In keeping with my previous conceit, I’ve chosen another novel that I’ve yet to read, but whose release I’m anxiously anticipating. Science fiction fan though I am, I’ve only ever peripherally explored the writing of William Gibson. This, I understand, is a profound oversight of mine as a reader, to have ignored the man who penned Neuromancer and coined the term “cyberspace.” Next month sees the release of his latest novel, Agency, which envisions an alternative history where Hilary Clinton won the 2016 election, and the main character is involved in developing military Artificial Intelligence, while an alternative plot from the 22nd Century collides with our present. One of the concepts which Gibson promises to explore is that of the “Jackpot,” a kind of slow, simmering, low-level apocalypse that’s happening all around us, all of the time. An attribute of Gibson’s that I’ve gathered from his readers (particularly as in the fantastic story about him in this week’s The New Yorker) is that he writes so effectively about the present by imagining the very, very near future while he is in the process of composing. Gibson once claimed that the future is here, it’s just not equally distributed. The same may be true of apocalypse.
The best encapsulation of what the close of the second decade of the 21st Century feels like is the television show The Expanse, canceled by the Syfy channel but recently renewed for a fourth season as an Amazon original. An irony of our system that such a subversive, astute, and prescient show would appear on Bezos’ box, but the vampiric nature of those in power is a central theme of The Expanse. No science fiction show since Star Trek has so fully reinvented the idiom of the genre, with its depiction of a colonized solar system centuries into the future caught in a political cold war between Earth (as represented by a global United Nations), a militaristic Republic of Mars, and the “Belters,” the oppressed underclass of asteroid miners who make their lives in the rocky environs between the fourth planet from the sun and Jupiter. With a profoundly intricated narrative sensibility, combining multiple streams into one another with an admirable adeptness, a deeply humane sense of character (enlivened by great performances), and special effects that hew towards scientific verisimilitude, The Expanse is the genre show that fans have needed for decades. Its explorations of political corruption, class division, and social hopelessness make The Expanse feel like The Wire in space, in all of the best ways.
Well good political moments are in short supply this year, aren’t they? There’s an anemic type of procedural hope in the impeachment, at least in the sense that it’s the right thing to do, even while the removal of our corrupt, authoritarian president by the Senate seems like a non-starter, and there’s a genuine risk that backlash to the process itself could result in a second term. Then there is the recent election across the Atlantic, where a fundamentally decent Labour candidate’s reputation was demolished in a slow-motion act of media character assassination, despite Corbyn’s party manifesto being one of the most inspirational recent documents offering a full-throated declaration of leftist principles. Always hesitant to extrapolate from British examples to American ones, most people I know are looking warily at the election of Boris Johnson, and recalling the sickening feeling that we had after the Brexit vote when we realized that it could happen here too. So instead of one political moment to point towards, since it seems that we’re in short supply of hope this season, I’ll note the rumblings of discontent around the world against both the ascendant revanchism of the global authoritarians and the neo-liberal economic order that they exist to bolster. In France, in Chile, in Hong Kong, in Russia, there have been protests against widely different orders that all deserve to be protested against. Perhaps there shall be similar births in Britain and America soon too.
Sports are always really about culture (well, mostly, and sports are about sports too), and no moment showed the emancipatory potential more this year than when during the third inning of the fifth game of the World Series a crowd of Washington Nationals fans booed Trump, and chanted “Lock him up!,” the same poisonous mantra he so often repeats about varied personal enemies at his orchestrated hate rallies. One imagines that it was the first time that Trump looked out at a sea of thousands of red caps and received unbridled disdain rather than adoration. On the one hand, this shouldn’t have been surprising, the District of Columbia is famously liberal, with only 4% of residents having caste their vote for Trump. But on the other hand, this miscalculation which put Trump in the stadium demonstrated to the president the sheer ferocity of hatred that is owed to him. Safely insulated within the stage drama of his red state rallies, you can almost believe that the narcissistic sociopath has convinced himself that people like him. In Washington, viewers could see the exact moment when his contrived smile turned to a grimace, when the man who more than anything wants people to adore him realized that this crowd hated him. I’ve no idea what the future has in store, I’ve no idea what any of that moment means – if anything. But for a second, Trump got how little regard the majority of Americans have for him. And in his displeasure there is a kind of redemption, at least for a moment.