Weekend Rumpus Roundup

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First, Brandon Hicks compares a nostalgic past with a scary future in “When I Was A Kid… A Personal Essay.”

Then, in the Saturday Essay, Josie Pickens tries to reconcile the real Bill Cosby with the one we’ve come to admire from The Cosby Show and Fat Albert. These classic programs tried to give Americans a vision of racial transcendence. But the revelation of Cosby’s horrific secrets, Pickens argues, blows the doors off this narrative. “In fact,” she writes, “I’d argue that Bill Cosby was never the man, the icon, the protector and illustrator of black culture, the guide, the genius we have created in our minds.”

Next, Whitney Joiner talks with Phoebe Gloeckner, author of the semi-autobiographical novel, Diary of a Teenage Girl, about the book, its recent adaptation to film, and what Gloeckner has been working on since. The well-reviewed movie is a Sundance favorite, starring Kristen Wiig and Alexander Skarsgard. Gloeckner explains her choice to fictionalize the novel, arguing that she has “always resisted this thing about an autobiography, because honestly, what does it matter if it’s me or not. Every work of art is about the artist.”

And Cate Marvin’s Oracle is reviewed by Jeannine Hall Gailey. This “enjoyable” and “highly-skilled” collection of poetry laments the agonies of the American high school experience through the voice of a “slippery speaker” who may have some similarities with Marvin. “Oracle,” Gailey writes, “is a wonderful introduction to [Marvin’s] voice(s), and her capacity to write visceral, exhilarating poems.”

Finally, in the Sunday Essay, Roohi Choudhry explores the street vendors of Brooklyn’s Little Pakistan. Each trinket and syllable of Urdu raises a rich cultural memory for her. Consumed with skepticism and the warring desire to belong, Choudhry visits several vendors. By the end of her trip, she achieves a new understanding of the neighborhood and her relationship to it.


Read more of Max Gray at Big City Sasquatch or follow him on Twitter @City_Sasquatch. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Encounters, Mount Hope, Conte, tNY.press, and English Kills Review. He co-hosts the etymology podcast Words For Dinner and is a graduate of the Rutgers-Newark MFA program. More from this author →