The LARB Channels are a community of wholly independent online magazines specializing in fiction, poetry, literary criticism, politics, science, religion, and culture, supported by the Los Angeles Review of Books. Here, some of our Channel editors have highlighted standout pieces they’ve published this year. We hope this inspires you to take a look at more of the LARB Channels here — and if you’re moved to support LARB during our fund drive this December, we welcome your donation, no matter how small, to sustain the operations of our 501(c)(3), keep our publication paywall-free, and increase our capacity to pay our contributors.
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Dao Strom, editor of diaCRITICS, recommends Monique Truong’s “A Rejected ‘Travelogue’ of Singapore, the Philippines, and Vietnam“:
This beautifully written, lyrical essay is both a critique of white privilege and the Anglo-oriented contemporary art world, and an inventive take on the essay and narrative writing itself. In many ways this piece captures the heart, political, and aesthetic pulse of diaCRITICS. It challenges imaginaries and boundaries, and it challenges the dominant purview in those domains, while making visible and “voiced” a diasporic, Vietnamese, SE Asian perspective that would be otherwise overlooked or usurped (as it evidently has been, for instance by the institution the essay challenges) in other publication outlets. For me as an editor, this piece is representative of the kind of writing I feel most excited by reading and look forward to publishing more of on diaCRITICS — writing that activates on the levels of language, image and form, while also contemplating insightfully how/why we see as we do, and putting forth contemporary Vietnamese diasporic concerns, with both quiet strength and lyrical deftness.
Jack Conway, editor of The Podcast Review, recommends Sylvie McNamara’s review of the podcast Slow Burn:
Slow Burn‘s second season, on the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, was this year’s standout documentary podcast. And in her review of the show, Sylvie McNamara nails why: the podcast shows us that “the useful comparison between the Clinton era and the present isn’t the presidency itself — it’s how Americans respond to allegations of sexual harassment and assault.”
Lyle Daniel, editor of Soap Ear, selects Mark So’s mixtape “at no determinate time or place. a familiar instance“:
When commissioning the “mixtape,” we invite artists to interpret that word however they will, and So’s mixtape does so by combining a two-sided sound piece, Old love and time are buried and the earth devours them, with an essay, “Words, words, words,” which meditates on the process of creating such tapes (along with some images of So’s visual postcard scores). Mark So is a composer, poet, and sound artist who once created 300 scores inspired by the works of John Ashbery. (So also befriended the late poet when Ashbery was still living.) The components of So’s mixtape together weave strange rhythms. You can take in the sounds, writing, and images on their own, or rather play the sound while you read and look on in a kind of trance. Still, the page is only as interactive as So wants it to be.
Cynthia Haven recommends an episode of Entitled Opinions featuring an archival interview with the late René Girard entitled “Why We Want What We Want“:
“Thou has saved the best wine for last.” The Entitled Opinions channel spotlights the radio interviews of Stanford’s Robert Pogue Harrison, an author who is one of the nation’s greatest humanists. We are winding up 2018 with two legacy podcast interviews with the French theorist René Girard, one of the 20th century’s greatest thinkers. (The second will be up later this month.) I can’t say that these are the best interviews Robert has done — he has done so many, and they’re all so good! — but they are certainly special to us both. We were both personal friends of the eminent Stanford professor, who died in 2015 at 91. Moreover, I have just published his first-ever biography, Evolution of Desire: A Life of René Girard. Finally, the current holiday issue of The New York Review of Books includes Robert’s retrospective of René Girard’s oeuvre, as well as a consideration of my own book. We are pleased to honor René by sharing these 2005 interviews with LARB listeners at year’s end!
Alfie Bown, founding co-editor of Hong Kong Review of Books, recommends Gabriele de Seta’s “Into the Red Stack.”
Gabriele de Seta’s “Into the Red Stack” was chosen by the editing team at the HKRB. Bogna Konior, the Media and Technology editor, described it as follows: “This review essay covers three new books on the subject of China’s platform state-capitalism and digital economy. Seta writes with wit, clarity, and expertise while illuminating the infrastructure of China’s digital sovereignty. This embodies what we are trying to do at HKRB, combining theory with an interest in Asia and its networks.”
Michael Marder, editor of The Philosophical Salon and The Philosopher’s Plant selects “The Moebius Strip of Sexual Contracts” by Slavoj Žižek and Marder’s piece from The Philosopher’s Plant, “A Portrait of Plants as Artists.”