The Problem with Invoking Down Syndrome in Support of the American Health Care Act

By George Estreich

From the moment the American Health Care Act won passage in the House of Representatives, a child with Down syndrome was going to be marshaled in its favor: supporters of the bill needed a sentimental distraction from the AHCA’s likely impact on people with disabilities.

What I didn’t expect was that the first example would come from a parent who voted for the bill. Continue reading

Meeting Her Parents, Meeting Her Country: an American’s First Taste of Korea

By Stefano Young

Stefano Young didn’t know the difference between Korea, China, and Japan until he was 23 — but then he met a Korean woman, learned to say “사랑해요,” and has studied Korean language and culture ever since. In an occasional series starting this week, the Los Angeles Review of Books Korea Blog will present his essays on his ever-deepening experiences with Korean life, culture, and family. Continue reading

Dis-Content: Learning to Write in the Age of the Digital

By Chris Townsend

Anyone attempting to make a living for him- or herself through the written word in the modern digital day will be all-too familiar with the ubiquitous term “content.” The daily, desperate perusal of job listings is streamlined by the fact that nearly all roles related whatsoever to writing, editing, or proofreading now contain this ever-present buzzword. Content writer, content editor, content producer, content manager. Content strategist even, content creator, content developer, content marketing executive, content communicator, content buyer. Junior content delivery operative. Head of content. “Content,” in the marketing sense, is not by any stretch a brand-new concept, but it is one that has gained an uncommonly tenacious purchase in our modern or postmodern times. Content of this ilk exists to bridge the ever-increasing gap between print and screen cultures, as a one-size-fits-all category for both the old world of writing and the new paradigm of images. Content is a solution to the brave new world of the digital. Continue reading

What Did He Write and When Did He Write It?: Mozart’s Requiem

By Glen Roven

In anticipation of the National Chorale’s performance of Mozart’s Requiem, his monumental final work, thoughts of Wolfgang were swirling in my head. I thought of that scene in Amadeus, where Mozart, dying from some unknown disease, is coerced by his frenemy Salieri into dictating his Requiem note by note, so that the sure-to-be-forgotten Salieri can pass it off as his own, thereby securing a place in history as the author of at least one masterpiece. Continue reading

Ariel Levy and the Human Female Animal Experience

By Eleanor Duke

The best way to read Ariel Levy’s memoir, The Rules Do Not Apply, is to barrel along with her at full-speed, not stopping for breath or losing momentum, until you emerge at the other end windswept, tears in your eyes from both laughing and crying, and cursing yourself for reading too quickly. It is a captivating story about the grief of losing the irreplaceable — a son, a spouse, a home — and the jarring realization that nothing can immunize us to the forces of nature, relationships, or the human body. Continue reading

Beneath the Veneer: John Banville’s The Untouchable

By Steve Isenberg

John Banville’s The Untouchable (1997) gives imaginative life to what Lord Annan, then Provost of King’s College, Cambridge, described as  “the long-running inquest upon the culture, morality, and patriotism of intellectuals” brought about by the “saga of the Cambridge spies.”  The artistry of the novel is, indeed, no less captivating than the reality from which it draws — the double life of Anthony Blunt, who juggled the intense secrecy of a spy with the public stature of a leading art historian. Continue reading

On China’s Great Books: An Interview with Frances Wood

By Paul French

Retirement from her post as the Curator of Chinese Collections at the British Library in London seemingly hasn’t done much to slow down Frances Wood’s output. She’s never been anything less than prodigious, and she has now assembled a collection of writing from China, going as far as 1,000 BCE and the anonymous Book of Songs (Shi jing) and finally finishing with Dai Houying’s Stones of the Wall (1981), which set during the Cultural Revolution. Titled Great Books of China: From Ancient Times to the Present (published by BlueBridge in the U.S. and Head of Zeus in the U.K.), her latest work contains over 60 excerpts, presented in rough chronological order, from novels, poems and philosophical works, each introduced by Wood to set them in context and explain their importance. The collection is at once a serious study of the progression of Chinese writing for the scholar and, for those less scholarly inclined, a fine miscellany to dip into at random given a free hour and a glass of something warming. Continue reading

Destruction and Deconstruction in Tommy Pico’s Nature Poem

By Massoud Hayoun

Tommy Pico’s book-length epic Nature Poem is written, in parts, like a string of OK Cupid messages from every run-of-the-mill gay manic depressive I’ve ever met — frantic thoughts, ultimately wretched and whining.

Maybe that’s what grated on me at the onset of this young, gay, city-dwelling Native American man’s journey. All-too familiar to me, as a gay Arab-American man, are the histrionics that pass for conversation at the Boiler Room in the East Village or at The Abbey in WeHo on a Saturday night. Even at a gay bar I once visited in faraway Urumqi, China, there was this same mixture of thirst and depression. It’s a global plague, deeply bourgeois; if you have the disposable income to buy a drink at a gay bar, you probably have enough time to think. And if you think too much about what’s going on around you at a gay bar, you’ll probably become thirsty and depressed. Continue reading

America The Beautiful: The Disconnect Between Conservatism and Conservation

By Henry Godinez

“Words, words, words,” says the young prince in Hamlet, arguably the greatest play ever written in any language. Perhaps part of why it has remained influential for 400 years is that it can be a kind of blueprint for us, or at least a mirror. As a mirror turned to our society today, it reflects our political turmoil, our corruption, and frankly, our hypocrisy. Continue reading

Art Inside: Fieldnotes #2

By Annie Buckley, for the “Art Inside” series

This is my first visit to our new program at this prison. I meet up with our teaching team in the expansive parking lot and we walk through a sea of cars to a small guard booth where an officer is sitting behind a Plexiglas screen. He greets us, already familiar with the four teachers that have visited for the past four weeks. They sign in, introduce me, and we are issued a key and alarm. The process is relatively easy, calm, and methodical. Continue reading