All posts by LARB Blog

One Day You’re In, the Next Day You’re Art: The Year in Fashion Exhibitions

By Grant Johnson

Fashion exhibitions often overstate their own right to exist. “Genius,” “revolutionary,” “iconic,” they shout at us. They clamber to call their creators “artists” as often as “designers.” In a banner year for fashion exhibitions, there remains a self-consciousness that fashion, especially when it enters the museum, is an inferior cultural artifact. Continue reading

Jacques Tati’s Playtime: A Guide to Getting Along With Technology

By Aaron Timms

It’s been 50 years to the day since Jacques Tati released Playtime, his digressive, dialogue-light comedy about manners of being in the modern city. The anniversary has passed without remark, even in Tati’s homeland, where Playtime has always been respected, but not loved in the manner of his more accessible earlier films such as Jour de fête and Mon oncle. Continue reading

Those Old Songs of Place: A Conversation with Kim Scott

By Robert Wood

Australian writer Kim Scott’s novels include True Country, Benang and That Deadman Dance. He was the first Indigenous person to win the prestigious Miles Franklin Award and is highly regarded as a member of the Noongar community working towards language maintenance and renewal. He was trained as a teacher and worked in the northern part of Western Australia before settling in Fremantle. He was the West Australian of the Year in 2012 and is currently a Professor at Edith Cowan University. Our conversation focused on his new work, Taboo, which was released in July 2017. It is a novel about settlement, colonization, family, trauma, history, and language, and features a cast of characters in a regional setting. We spoke about the importance of elders, the intimacy of reading, and our relationships with history, imagination, and writing. Continue reading

With Gun Violence, Ignorance is Not Bliss

By Lise Ragbir

On a Sunday afternoon, when a church-shooting left more than two-dozen people dead outside San Antonio, Texas, a hometown friend in Montreal called me to express concern about the tragedy. While the media-frenzy had carried reports all the way to Canada within hours, I was blissfully unaware of the shooting which occurred an hour and a half away from where I live. On Monday, an editor reached out to see if I had an opinion on the shooting — which I did. And I set off to organize an array of emotional reactions. But by Wednesday, I was told the heat around the incident was dying down and an essay about gun-violence would be over-shadowed by more current events. It is a horrifying truth: frequent coverage has shortened the attention we give mass-shootings — which could mean we might eventually not give any attention to such tragedies. That desensitization has ominous implications. Continue reading

What a Very Strange Thing Legal Precedent Is: Talking to Angela Naimou

By Andy Fitch

This conversation, transcribed by Phoebe Kaufman, focuses on Angela Naimou’s Salvage Work: U.S. and Caribbean Literatures amid the Debris of Legal Personhood, winner of the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present (ASAP) Book Prize, and finalist for the William Sanders Scarborough Award from the Modern Language Association. Naimou, an associate professor of English at Clemson University, recently guest-edited the Dossier on Contemporary Refugee Timespaces for Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development. She is currently at work on a study of contemporary war-refugee imaginaries and humanitarian practice. Continue reading

Healthy Brain Intake: Modify Your News Habits to Ease Your Mind

By John Franklin, MD

Too much information (TMI) is internet speak for the notion that this information is more than I need, or care to know. I admit, I am a news junkie these days, but I’m claiming TMI.

Wandering through the Amherst College art museum recently, I came across a series of three photographs entitled, “Burning News,” by T.S. Parchikov. These admittedly photo-shopped pieces depict people earnestly reading Russian newspapers that are nearly consumed by fire. Continue reading

How Culture Makes Us Feel: Announcing Avidly Reads

Interviewed by Evan Kindley

For the past five years, Avidly has been one of the most original, surprising, and entertaining venues for cultural criticism and personal narrative on the web. Founded by Sarah Mesle and Sarah Blackwood in 2012, Avidly has brought us essays on everything from Ernest Shackleton’s “Chilly Ponies” and weird sex to Brexit and Dylann Roof. Now Sarah and Sarah are bringing their sui generis editorial sensibility to a new book imprint, Avidly Reads, to be published under the auspices of NYU Press beginning in 2019. The first three titles — Jordan Stein’s Avidly Reads: Theory, Eric Thurm’s Avidly Reads: Board Games, and Kathryn Bond Stockton’s Avidly Reads: Making Out — have just been announced (and are described in detail below). I emailed the Sarahs to find out more about what they have in store. Continue reading

Remembering William H. Gass 1924-2017

By Greg Gerke

He grew up in the worst of times and died in end times. The Great Depression colored his mind’s eye and President Tweetledum and “The tweet is mightier than the truth” zeitgeist recently told him, Yes, the language can be more perverted and debased than anything heretofore. No matter, for William H. Gass, the world was within the word, the soul inside the sentence, the great texts together made a temple, and he added overly qualified artistry and highly poetic explication to the great chain connecting Joyce to Shakespeare to Homer. Continue reading

Say It: I’m Arab and Beautiful

By Fady Joudah

Dear editor: Do you ever consider what it’s like for an Arab American to wake up within his or her own American life and feel assaulted almost daily, for decades? Do you ever think how painful it is for so many like me to know that I live in a country — my country — which sees me only when I’m dead or dying, through the Arab body that is directly and indirectly decimated as consequence of our American wars? If you did, your sympathies would be less of a token. They would not be afraid of my agency. Necropolitics wouldn’t be your default mode. You would seek to publish and review, unapologetically, unflinchingly, and lovingly the works of Arabs as beauty, not as product of wars and death. This is the task ahead: The Arab is beautiful. Repeat it to yourself.   Continue reading