Posts Tagged: Los Angeles Review of Books

To Pimp Postmodernism

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Over at the Los Angeles Review of Books, Casey Michael Henry considers Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly a new bid to revive a “Black Postmodernism”:

Not only does the album fulfill many specific qualities of postmodernism, and postmodernism specifically shaped by black experience, but also does so within a form traditionally consigned to canonical, usually white, “masters” like Melville and Pynchon.

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Seeing is (Not) Believing

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Does perception provide us with an accurate picture of reality? To what extent is our environment a reflection of our psychological state? UCLA Philosophy Professor Josh Armstrong examines all sorts of thought-provoking questions in his critique of John Searle’s Seeing Things As They Are in the Los Angeles Review of Books.

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Word of the Day: Eschaton

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(n.); the last thing, as a theological reference to the climax of history at Judgment Day; the day at the end of time following Armageddon when God will decree the fates of all human beings; from the ancient Greek eskhatos (“end”)

“My mind moves toward apocalypse fictions the way we think about a forgotten friend, or a partner that’s left us—grief becomes its own comfort.”

–Adnan Khan, “Finding a Home in the Apocalypse”

The past decade has seen a fantastic resurgence of the apocalypse—thankfully, only of the fictional variety.

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Never Change

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The LA Review of Books talks with Meghan Daum about her wildly successful new essay collection, The Unspeakable, catharsis, and redemption (or the lack thereof):

I think what tends to be truly unspeakable in our current culture is not when someone is honest about her mistakes or struggles, but rather when she fails to learn from them, fails to transform on some level.

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Always Read the Comments

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Art isn’t just for fans, which means that it’s not just for the knowledgeable, but for passersby as well. Expertise, then, seems an excuse to make everyone talk about the same things in the same way.

For the LA Review of Books, Noah Berlatsky writes about ignorant commenters, outsider critics, and elitist experts and argues that, sometimes, the perspectives of the former two are more useful and illuminating than that of the latter.

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Ourselves and Our World

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Sensational headlines declaiming the death of the humanities often misunderstand what the humanities actually are. Paul A. Kottman explains that the practice of analyzing texts doesn’t just teach us how to think; it creates new ways of thinking:

Whatever we learn by reflecting on literary texts in our teaching is the direct outcome of those very same activities.

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Native Transplant

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Rumpus contributor J. Ryan Stradal edited the recently published California Prose Directory: New Writing from the Gold State, Number 2. The anthology’s goal? To find the best new practitioners of Californian prose. Down at LARB, Dinah Lenney quizzes Stradal on just how impossible that is:

Like a lot of people, when I think of California prose, I think of writers like Joan Didion, John Steinbeck, Raymond Chandler, Michelle Tea, Luis J.

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Figuring 101 Two-Letter Words

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Stephin Merritt, besides being the lead singer/songwriter in beloved indie band Magnetic Fields, is a talented poet. His latest collection of short poems is a trip into the world of two-letter words allowed on Scrabble. Merritt shares the stories behind the new book with Sarah Mesle in an interview for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

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Fame and Literature, Irreconcilable Enemies

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Reflecting on what might become of Roberto Bolaño, and his fame, John Yargo covers two biographies of the Chilean writer for the Los Angeles Review of Books, noting that these scholars had to “face a unique problem”:

The seductive popular image of [Bolaño]—something like a better-read Burroughs—is at odds with the voice of his fiction and his essays, which tends to be more generous, expansive, and penetrating than his image suggests.

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