August 19, 2017

weekend links: Confederate statues, Austin electronica, Expedition Batikback

Viron Erol Vert, Long Live Your Balls (2017). Image courtesy Lucia Hinojosa/Hyperallergic.

Yesterday, 16 of the 17 members of the White House Committee of the Arts, including Chuck Close, Jhumpa Lahiri, Kal Penn, and Ken Solomon, resigned from their positions. In their resignation letter, they listed a slew of offenses the President has perpetrated toward people of color, the humanities, and the press. They stated that their silence would be a sign of their complicity in his actions, and that “art is about inclusion.” The first letter of each paragraph spelled out one word: RESIST. [Art News]

We’re happy to see a trend in the removal of Confederate statues from commemorative public spaces over the past two years. Many have been put into storage to await their destiny, while others have been donated to museums for educational purposes. With so many more to be torn down, the question remains: what will happen to these pieces of art that embody the ugly and hateful ideals of our nation’s past? [Artsy]

James Draney explores the centuries-long debate of what medium is best for communication, expression, and narration: The throat? The pen? The screen? Draney moves from Plato’s fear that replacing oration with writing would kill the inner spirit of man to Heidegger’s hatred for the clerical and diddling typewriter. Have the media in which we have used to translate our thoughts transformed us at the same time? What are our spell checkers and language predictors doing to the way we think? [Lit Hub]

Catch up on Turkish political history through this gorgeous walk-through of Viron Erol Vert’s Born in the Purple, an exhibit currently on display in Berlin. Turkey’s political crises bear disturbing parallels to our own, and Vert’s exploration of power structures and how they manifest through cultural paradigms is worth exploring. Also, it’s gorgeous. [Hyperallergic]

Surrealist and mystical filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky’s latest film, Endless Poetry, has been showing at the Gene Siskel Film Center this past week. Based on the auteur’s childhood in the poetically revolutionized Chilé of Pablo Neruda, I’m sure we can expect the essence of meter and rhythm found in every shot and edit. Christopher Doyle directs the cinematography of the film in a style that emphasizes Jodorowsky’s genius. [Chicago Reader]

The Picasso, as it is known ubiquitously throughout Chicago—the 162-ton untitled, monumental sculpture by Pablo Picasso located in Daley Plaza—turned 50 on August 18th. Last week, the sculpture was restaged by the city to commemorate not only the anniversary but to also promote the “Year of Public Art” that is taking place through Chicago in 2017. Here’s to 50 more years to the city’s most famous skate spot and jungle gym. [Chicago Gallery News]

Austin’s electronic scene is having a renaissance, and thanks to the growing stature of artists such as S U R V I V E, who penned the Stranger Things soundtrack, people are starting to take note. If you’ve been wondering what the fuss is about, here’s a primer from Austin’s hottest artists and DJs discussing their favorite fellow performers and venues. [Noisey]

If you haven’t seen Expedition Batikback at Co-Lab Projects’ Demo Gallery, you should get down there. Featuring work from fields favorites Manik Raj Nakra (who designed our awesome new T-shirts and tote bags), Ryan Davis, and upcoming interviewee Drew Liverman alongside a mix of great artists from Austin and The Netherlands, the show is a playful exploration of batik, an Indonesian method of dyeing. The large cloth paintings are sure to add some much-needed joy to your day. [Glasstire]

And here’s a fun 62-minute documentary celebrating touring life with Xetas, produced by the band’s Kana Harris. We’ve been fans since at least our third issue, and we’re stoked to see them continue to grow and gain recognition for their melodic brand of punk. Cheers! [Austin 360]

—I. Feigle and Sean Redmond

August 17, 2017

in review: The End of Eddy

The End of Eddy
by Édouard Louis
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

The End of Eddy is an autobiographical account of author Édouard Louis’s life as a gay youth growing up in Hallencourt, a small town in rural France. The story is a harrowing collection of vignettes presented in not-quite-chronological order—they swirl in and around Eddy’s family and friends, his life at home and at school, and, most importantly, around the events that come to mark Eddy’s growing sense of his homosexuality. Although somewhat difficult to delve into initially, the haphazard arrangement allows for a thorough submersion into Eddy’s childhood, experienced like unpleasant memories bubbling to the surface as Louis probes deeper and deeper into the recesses of his psyche.

The contours of the story will feel familiar to many in the LGBT community; as with all stories of this nature, it is a story of anguish that is sure to bring up memories of similar experiences for many readers. I was not spared from my own memories while reading Louis’s memoir, and was in fact surprised by how similar my own childhood in rural Connecticut was to Louis’s life across the ocean. I was reminded of my own regular encounters with bullies, and the subconscious complicity that drove me to interact with them, as if I’d secretly desired being tormented, or, as Eddy remarks, was too afraid of the consequences of avoiding them. I saw myself in the taunts from peers who preyed on the gawky and effeminate, and I saw my own father in Eddy’s, not just in the way he berates his son for a lack of manliness but in the way he breaks down crying when Eddy tries to run away. It would be hard to say I enjoyed these scenes, but there is comfort in the strength of seeing your own experiences reflected in the lives of others, and celebration in surmounting such hardships.

Louis’s insight is notable, capturing in vivid psychological detail not only his own attitudes and behaviors but those of the people around him. “I eventually started hanging out with a couple boys from the village,” he writes. “If I called them my buddies, the gang, anyone could have told that this was pure fantasy, and that I was actually an isolated unit orbiting around them.” The fraught tension Eddy experiences when sharing space with men is represented with unflinching honesty, and the anguish he suffers when watching his peers partake in male bonding activities that he cannot share in is palpable. He presents in uncompromising detail the discomfort of having his friends try to coerce him into watching porn, and the secret agony he hides while watching his classmates get drunk and naked, howling at the moon together, oblivious to each other’s bodies. Of course, Eddy must refrain from participating, using heterosexuality as an excuse that nobody, least of all himself, buys into.

What sets this novel apart from so many other gay coming-of-age stories is the way Louis ties his experience to the poverty of the community. He casts a keen sociological eye to the way that attitudes and behaviors are shaped. He writes that his mother “didn’t realize that her family, her parents, her brothers and sisters, even her children, pretty much everyone in the village, had had the same problems, and what she called mistakes were, in fact, no more and no less than the perfect realization of the normal course of things.” These mistakes, as she puts it, would be familiar to many downtrodden Americans: teenage pregnancy, alcoholism, unemployment. “I could have gone further with my education,” she insists, “I could’ve gotten a credential.” Instead, she’d “made it through and had a bunch of beautiful kids.” The insistence on her own agency—I could have done it, but chose not to—is so emblematic of human nature that you almost want to believe her. (This, of course, is why low-income whites vote Republican.) He writes that his neighbors, “who had even less money and a house that was always dirty and falling apart, were the object of my mother’s scorn… they belonged to that segment of local inhabitants who were called slackers, people who lived off welfare, sat on their asses all day.” One wishes that the actual French were presented, so we could see just how closely the original mirrors the translation, the sentiment feels so familiar. At the same time, many of the book’s vernacular translations come across as dated and stilted, occasionally calling into question the authenticity of conversations; the reader’s belief is momentarily displaced.

While the book succeeds for Louis’s acuity, it struggles for his writing. The characters’ thoughts and dialogue intertwine clumsily with the narrative, inserted via italics in ham-fisted ways that push the boundaries of readability. Perhaps this technique works better in the French, but it comes across poorly in the translation. Worse, Eddy’s attitude is almost unbearably pretentious. The way he looks down on his family for their shortfalls while adopting mannerisms and behaviors that he ascribes to an enlightened, smarter, wealthier class does little to gain sympathy for his character. One has to wonder if the young age of the author, a mere 24-years-old, might explain the unpleasant tone and half-boiled structure of the book. For a character so readily sympathetic to come across as unlikeable is an astonishing achievement.

In the end, readers looking to probe the complexity of adolescent homosexuality will find much to like about The End of Eddy. Louis remains uncomfortably close to the incidents of his youth, and his recollections are freshly painful in ways that may elicit masochistic pleasures of rediscovery in the reader. Although it is difficult to recommend this book to everyone, those that identify with the protagonist—and those looking to broaden their understanding of the troubles that young gay men face—will not be disappointed.

—Sean Redmond

August 15, 2017

in review: One of the Boys

Daniel Magariel - One of the Boys

One of the Boys
by Daniel Magariel
Publication Date: March 14, 2017
Publisher: Scribner

Long latent addiction burns slow and silent at first, then intensifies, revealing itself in a wild, horrific crescendo. Daniel Magariel’s poetic and heartbreaking One of the Boys unfolds in the same manner, telling the story of two brothers whose lives are dictated entirely by their father’s cocaine habit and his manipulation of their love, loyalty, and masculinity to maintain it. Magariel studied under George Saunders and Mary Karr at Syracuse, and his simple, beautiful prose reflects their influence on handling ugly subject matters. He plumbs the depths of the fragile circus that a delusional, addict parent makes of his family in this short debut novel.

As the children of addicts, the brothers inhabit a harsh reality that feels just as real as those depicted in modern memoir. From the viewpoint of the younger brother, who is 12 years old, Magariel demonstrates how the proximity to addiction normalizes aberrant and bizarre behavior. After the father flees both rural Kansas and his marriage with his sons, he begins to disappear into his darkened room in their cheap apartment complex in New Mexico—first for days, then weeks, then months, until he becomes essentially nonfunctional. “He stared blankly into the frying pan, stirring the eggs, waiting for them to cook. He still had not realized the burner was off. Before, he’d been at the countertop buttering bread until the centers gave out… The capillaries in his eyes were exposed wires.” Magariel describes the gentle fraying of appearances and the humiliation that occurs as addiction slowly reveals itself to the outside world. When the father makes a rare appearance at one brother’s basketball game, his state becomes clear. “His sagging pants sagged lower. His shirt was wrinkled with only the front tucked in, as if he thought he could not be seen from the back. As if he imagined himself two-dimensional.”

At the heart of the story is the father’s manipulative use of the fiercely loyal love of his children and how he warps the ideas of masculinity and brotherhood to maintain his rapidly collapsing façade. He uses the book’s titular phrase, “One of the boys,” to coerce his sons into lying about their mother to protective services, moving across the country, changing their names, and staying home from school to do his job for him. He plays favorites and convinces both brothers that they’re his special lookouts when he wakes up paranoid in the night, whispering “Be my eyes.” He expects them to look out the window for 20 minutes for movement, a car, a person, anything. As the story reaches its violent climax, Magariel captures the central tension of the children of addicts: the powerless, nauseating mingling of hate and love that a child has for its parents.

The author’s choice of settings—rural Kansas and New Mexico—are fitting, as addiction continues to make its mark on lower-income families throughout the Southwest and middle America. He writes of their bleakness beautifully as the family drives south, escaping Kansas. “The rest of Oklahoma seems ominous. We pass oil fields, see pump jacks nodding like horse heads. At one point we come upon a stretch of white hundred-foot wind turbines, their blades turning with the patience of a rock. If not for their sleek geometry I might have thought they were prehistoric, that the wind generated from their rotations, and not the other way around.”

This story made me tear-up on an airplane and it lingered with me for weeks afterward. While it’s a deeply heavy read, Magariel’s writing and insight are well worth the emotional price of reading. In crafting the novel’s dark realism, however, the author does nothing to buffer the truth of addiction for the faint of heart.

—Sarah Jane Quillin 

August 11, 2017

weekend links: restroom art, bipolar appropriation, immigration blankets

You're WelcomeEmmett Ramstad, You’re Welcome (2016). Image courtesy Hyperallergic/Erin Young.

MS Paint was supposed to be removed from the Windows app store late last month, but due to backlash from the vintage program’s loyal followers, Microsoft decided to keep the app up on their website for free download. Artists look back at the program and trace its influence on their practice, 27 years since its inception. Long live Paint! [Artsy]

There’s been some criticism surrounding the extreme violence in Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit. It’s hard to tell whether the violence portrayed in the film is necessary, if it is filmed in such a way that people can understand the systematic racism behind the scenes and in real life, or if this is just another period drama that fails to go beyond surface-level violence and sensationalism. [New Republic]

Emmett Ramstad, an artist in Minneapolis, has been working on a book named Quasi-Public, Semi-Private that focuses on an especially pressing topic: restrooms. Ramstad discusses restroom-centric sculpture and thoughts on the seemingly banal but complex reality of bathrooms and trans rights in this insightful interview. [Hyperallergic]

Sarah Faber, author of All Is Beauty Now, grapples with the idea of capturing mental illness through writing. Grappling with her mother’s bipolar disorder, she found herself wondering if she had any right to tell and possibly fictionalize her mother’s experience without having the disorder herself. She raises an important question: Can someone who doesn’t have bipolar disorder accurately tell a story from that perspective without further spreading stigma? [Lit Hub]

The Merriam-Webster dictionary released a new feature on their website called Time Traveler that allows people to view all of the words that came into fruition during a certain year. The feature goes all the way back to the 14th century. The compilation of word “births” year by year provides a different lens in which to view history, reminding us that the importance of words in describing events of the past is often overlooked. [The New Yorker]

Jayna Zweiman is best known as a cofounder of the Pussyhat Project, which saw millions of women that participated in the 2017 Women’s March wear pink cat-like hats. Zweiman hasn’t gone away—she’s working of her new project, Welcome Blanket. Once again, she plans to spread a political message, this time tackling immigration through communal crafting and warmth. She hopes to collect around 3,000 blankets, totaling 3,500,640 yards of fabric—nearly equivalent to the length of Trump’s proposed border wall—and eventually give them to refugees and immigrants. [Chicago Reader]

In the latest Thor news, Texans rejoiced this morning at the possibly serious announcement that the man, the myth, the legend will be running for Texas governor. Thor Harris 2018! We’re keeping our fingers crossed. [Pitchfork]

And if you haven’t checked out the Google homepage today, be sure to give it a click and learn about the history of hip-hop, which traces its birth back to this date in 1973. Thank you, DJ Kool Herc, for extending those breaks! [Google]

Natalie Walrath

August 10, 2017

in review: Salki

Salki

Salki
by Wojciech Nowicki
(translated from Polish by Jan Pytalski)
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Open Letter

If you google Wojciech Nowicki, you’ll find a Wikipedia entry for Wojciech Nowicki, the Olympian hammer thrower. If Wikipedia entries in foreign languages reveal something about notability, the other Wojciech Nowicki—the author—appears to be unknown outside of his home country of Poland. Thanks to the literary press Open Letter and translator Jan Pytalski, perhaps this will change.

Salki is Nowicki’s first novel to be translated into English. While lying in a small Swedish bed at a writer’s conference in Gotland, the narrator is sickened by his desire to travel; he begins to recount his trips through Eastern Europe and tries to work through his family’s traumatic stories. Unpacking his memories becomes an unbearable addiction, told in a series of vignettes loosely tied to one another.

The novel resists being defined by a fixed genre as it swings between travel narrative, historical memoir, and poetic realism. Praising it for creating its own genre (as some reviewers have) seems counterproductive—it has the potential to reveal the imaginary divisions we draw between genres. Through this flux, it questions not only how we approach stories, but also the layers upon which these stories are archived, layers that have to be dug up.

In the novel, memories are stored in memorabilia, museums, a city’s narrative, and in salkis—physical attics that store trinkets, and the symbolic attics of our minds. Nowicki seems to point to an urgency in investigating and preserving memory, particularly in the Eastern European context, where suppressing and reshaping histories served the political machine and where places from the past disappeared with the fall of the Soviet Union. And so the narrator obsessively reminds us of the importance of both of his preoccupations—unearthing memories and traveling—to the point that his repeated utterances sound more like insecurity than conviction.

Despite our instinct to read the individual stories as parts of Polish or Eastern European history, the stories do not serve to place themselves within history, but question the process of memory-making and consider how words attempt to give memory a permanent shape. In the same way that the narrator claims “memory is better than reality,” the memories he retells have to negotiate the language that conveys them. As a writer, his urge to manage the memories that burden him, and to re-experience them, is at the mercy of words. In fact, considering Nowicki is also a curator of photography, it’s interesting how this novel investigates what texts, as opposed to images, are able to convey.

It seems clear that the inventive expressions that the novel so naturally puts in place are not matters of translation (though Pytalksi’s great translation shouldn’t be overlooked). It’s also no surprise that the prose is invested with rich imagery. This comes through especially, like other contemporary novels set across the former Soviet states, in its dark, situational humor. One vignette features the story of the execution of François Ravaillac and the man who fried his flesh up with some eggs; in another, the narrator remembers his fear of going to the name day party of a legless aunt who cuts her lover out of photographs and bakes perfect cakes.

While most of the chapters are equally as delightful, there are sweeping religious references throughout that confuse and occasionally disturb. And yet, in doing so, they challenge the reader to either see them as a mark of Polish religiosity or to decode them. Perhaps this is what the novel is asking of us—to delve into not just our pasts but, ultimately, our impressions.

—Katie Lauren Bruton

August 8, 2017

in review: The Blessing of Dark Water

The Blessing of Dark Water

The Blessing of Dark Water
by Elizabeth Lyons
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Alice James Books

In her debut collection The Blessing of Dark Water, Elizabeth Lyons captures the instability inherent in living with mental illness with heartbreaking precision. Switching between her own perspective and that of Walter Inglis Anderson, an American painter who was hospitalized for schizophrenia, Lyons writes of the tribulations of those living with neurological disorders. Among the issues examined are the struggle to reconcile one’s sense of identity with illness, the challenges of maintaining romantic relationships, and the daily struggle to remain hopeful in the face of often unrelenting psychological pain.

From 1938 to 1940, Anderson was in and out of mental hospitals for severe depression with paranoid trends and schizophrenic features. He was a prolific painter and writer, and one can hardly read about him without wondering if his creativity was tied to his illness. During one of his escapes from a Mississippi mental hospital, he lowered himself on bedsheets from a second-story window, leaving the wall covered in drawings of birds in flight (one of his most common subjects) done in soap. Lyons renders the scene with wistful beauty:

 

I knew you couldn’t be a constant

so I let the doctors guide you

 

to a room far from me. I knew you were

past help. When you escaped

from the hospital, your apology: a drawing of birds

in flight. Ivory soap and red brick

 

as good a canvas as any.

 

In Anderson’s story, Lyons finds images and themes that she delicately weaves into this collection of simultaneously graceful and completely unnerving poems: the desire for escape, the image of birds in flight, the act of molding clay (Anderson was also a potter by trade). Between the book’s sections are quotations related to Anderson’s life, including notes from his psychiatric evaluations, quotes from his own writing, and excerpts from his correspondence with his wife Agnes:

 

Until you can show me, in your letters, that

you have lost that dreadful willingness—even

pleasure—in remaining just as is, I cannot

give you false hope…I cannot live with you

 in that state.

                        —Agnes Anderson to Walter

 

The strain one partner’s illness can put on a romantic relationship is a theme that pervades the collection. In Anderson, the speaker seems to find in many ways a mirror of her own experience. While it is perhaps a small comfort in the face of grave depression and pain to find similarities in others’ struggles, this particular connection helps the speaker to make sense of her own story, and that is no small thing.

The Blessing of Dark Water is almost unceasingly dark. Lyons is unflinching in her portrayal of the reality of the deepest depressive states, as in “Apology”:

 

No amount of prayer or balm can fix this.

Your body cannot find north.

 

It is entirely dark.

 

You are a sad twin, standing at the bed’s edge,

counting your mistakes.

 

A man leaves, says you have a knife

where your heart should be.

 

This is why the compass won’t obey you,

why the doctors can’t find your pulse.

 

It is dark. Entirely.

 

Still, the book’s title suggests the possibility for meaning and hope within darkness. Lines like “If the illness in your brain is brutal, / be brutal back” and “I have learned to be a hidden thing you cannot break” display a voice that is strong and fiercely determined, as Lyons deftly guides the reader through the darkest caverns of the mind. It is a journey at times frightening and certainly heartbreaking, but one that ultimately leaves the reader with a renewed sense of awe at the resilience of the human spirit.

—Amy Saul-Zerby

August 4, 2017

weekend links: Maliibu Miitch, “Creative Health,” The Bachelor

Lucas DupuyWork by Lucas Dupuy. Image courtesy It’s Nice That.

The Guggenheim’s entrance hall/rotunda is scheduled to become an unconventional dance studio space this fall, at least temporarily. Artist Daniil Simkin’s Falls the Shadow will involve custom Dior costumes, motion capture sensors, and projections, all visible to those who will be making their way up and down the famous spiral ramps of the museum. [The Observer]

Triple Canopy Magazine’s The Amme Talks is a book of translated transcripts gathered from conversations between poet Ulf Stolterfoht and a language-gathering chatbot named “Die Amme.” The AI’s indifferent and often sassy retorts to the poet’s philosophical questions, while seemingly futile, actually gives us insight into the capacity and limits of language (especially conceptual poetry) in our now digitalized world. [Hyperallergic]

Bronx native and unapologetic rapper Maliibu Miitch talks New York rap, ’90s nostalgia, and what it means to be a female rapper. Miitch isn’t boss just because of her thick New York accent and bamboo earrings—after unsatisfactory record deals, she launched her own all-female indie label that’s about empowering other women instead of competing. [Pitchfork]

“Creative Health” is an over 200-page document that details the positive effects the arts has on mental health. Produced from over two years of research and supplementation by health professionals, patients, policy makers and artists, the report highlights cases where conditions like depression and anxiety were treated using art therapy. Finger-painting just might keep the doctor away. [Artsy]

SleepCenter Studios held a one-night show called “Here for the Right Reasons” this past Wednesday, where more than a dozen artists who “love watching The Bachelor and feel gross about it” were able to process their feelings about the show through art. It apparently involved interactive installations like a simulated rose ceremony, a song titled “I Should Not Watch the Bachelor,” a painting of Nick Viall as a merman, and an abundance of artificial red roses everywhere. [The New York Times]

Jenny Zhang’s first short story collection Sour Heart explores what it’s like to be a recent Chinese immigrant in New York City in an unflinching manner, weaving together brutal depictions of poverty, uncomfortable tales of sexual exploration, and “potty humor.” Simultaneously cruel and funny the way her poetry is, Zhang’s stories bring to life the feeling of being stuck between two countries and belonging to neither. [New Republic]

South London-based artist Lucas Dupuy is known for his abstract art that combines paintings and illustrations with graphic design, but his recent experimentation with digital imagery is specifically tied to his personal experiences with dyslexia— proof that learning disabilities aren’t always an impediment, but rather a source of inspiration. [It’s Nice That]

The first-ever Asian American Literature Festival took place this past weekend in Washington, DC, organized by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and organizations like the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. A self-proclaimed “caring space” for Asian American writers in a world full of prejudice and violence, the event was marked by its discussion panels and mentoring sessions, as well as stations for tarot card readings, self-care cards, and meme-making. [Lit Hub]

We’re excited to see Xetas, one of our favorite local punk acts, make the cover of this week’s Austin Chronicle. Catch our interview with them from way back when they were prepping their first album, then read up on their successful second album in this short but sweet feature. [The Austin Chronicle]

—Jae Lee

August 1, 2017

in review: Hothouse

Hothouse

Hothouse
by Karyna McGlynn
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Sarabande

Karyna McGlynn, author of I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl and Scorpionica, has a new book out from Sarabande Books. Hothouse, her second full-length collection of poetry, is broken up into sections (bedroom, library, parlor, etc.) filled with poems that loosely correspond to each room. McGlynn’s poetry, while often surreal, is always narrative, with every poem offering a beginning and an end. Primarily, the poems are about experiences with men, but it is the pieces about childhood, socioeconomic status, and the relationship to the self where the text proves most successful.

Hothouse gets off to a rough start via the “bedroom” section. With cringe-worthy lines such as “When I put my fingers on his stitches, he’ll spill his Right Stuff on my runway, touching secondary sex characteristics like spots on some Twister mat: right breast yellow, left testicle red, another flick of the spinner? Oh, sure,” it is difficult at times to keep going. However, there are points of redemption: “He kissed me. There was no heat in it. Only the mouth of a small goldfish swallowing a smaller goldfish,” and it is through these that one continues on. The narrator’s expression of the erotic is embarrassing and awkward, but one could say the same about sex itself, begging one to ponder the intentionality behind the uncomfortable, cheesy descriptions.

Hothouse’s “parlor” section is filled with scenarios that read like flash fiction. In the first piece, “Waiting for Greg O.,” the speaker and her roommate get excited and make endless preparations in hopes that a musician friend will stay with them during SXSW. Then they are bailed on and drink to the future. In “This is a Screwdriver, She Says,” two 11-year-old girls drink Smirnoff and get caught by one of their brothers while exploring oral sex in a closet.  This section, to me, seemed the most genuine, the least forced. The narrator’s telling of these stories, as well as the couple of surrealist scenarios in “parlor,” is direct, confident, and powerful, each piece ending with a punch.

In my favorite piece, “Eyebrows,” McGlynn writes, “I want to remind him how I once stuck a pin in the balloon of my long-term relationship in order to be drunk & excellent & eyebrow-less with him in the bad light of a Sheraton bathroom—watching him fuck me in the mirror, watching him already regret it, watching my eyebrows sweat off—” and my jaw drops. It is when the language strays from the heavy use of metaphors and instead provides a raw, honest narrative voice that McGlynn’s strength as a writer and storyteller begins to shine through.

Though the beginning of Hothouse feels trite, it is worth trudging through to get to the good stuff. McGlynn provides keen observations on human nature, drops her readers into a lot of strange scenarios, and ultimately escorts us through a hot house full of bizarre encounters that we can all relate to.

Shy Watson

July 23, 2017

BIG FUN: a fundraiser event

BIG FUN

BIG FUN is our big fundraiser event of the summer. Join us on Saturday, July 29 at grayDUCK Gallery (2213 E. Cesar Chavez St.) to commemorate four years of covering Austin’s art, music, and literary scenes, and help us raise money for our next issue, which will be released this fall. we’ve gathered together some of our favorite artists from around town to celebrate. This fundraiser will help ensure that we are able to continue providing Austin with the arts coverage it deserves.

With readings from:
Deb Olin Unferth
Chad Bennett
Marilyse Figueroa
Tatiana Ryckman

Music from:
Thor Harris
Tara Bhattacharya Reed

And an art raffle featuring:
Courtney Allen
Jonas Criscoe
Ryan Davis
Julia Ham
David Kramer
Jonny Negron
Greg Piwonka
Tammie Rubin
Seth Orion Schwaiger

Complimentary food and drink from:
Hops and Grain
Patrizi’s
Trader Joe’s

And DJing by Nat Zingg

Entry is $15 and includes two raffle tickets. Additional raffle tickets can be purchased at the event.

We are proud to have worked with and featured the work of many of the artists who will be joining us for the event. Follow our website all week for interviews and profiles of David Kramer, Jonny Negron, Tara Bhattacharya Reed and Tammie Rubin.

We hope you will join us for this special occasion. We could not do this work without the generous support of the community, and it is an honor to bring together so many talented artists for this event. We look forward to celebrating with you!

July 21, 2017

weekend links: Festival Dads, Deborah Roberts, Hiplet

Kysa JohnsonKysa Johnson, blow up 322 – the long goodbye (history of gold) – subatomic decay patterns and rapidly spinning neutron star PSR – B1509 – 58 (2017). Image courtesy the artist and Von Lintel Gallery/Hyperallergic.

We’ve all seen our fair share of dads at music festivals. How do they get there? What are they thinking? Where did they get those Hawaiian shirts? Pitchfork writer Jason Lipshutz has brought his dad to the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago for the past six years now. His LCD-Soundsystem-loving father was gracious enough to provide us with a comprehensive list of his 20 favorite things about this year’s festival through the eyes of an elusive, rarely interviewed Festival Dad. [Pitchfork]

Actors and actresses have forever been trying to perfect how they portray their characters. Samara Bay, a dialect coach, is at the forefront of the latest trend in acting. The way someone speaks is incredibly important in television and film, especially in order to create a truly authentic experience for the viewer. [The New York Times]

Deborah Roberts discusses her latest exhibit, Nobody’s Darling: Women and Representation, which is on display at the Warfield Center’s Christian-Green Gallery at The University of Texas at Austin campus until August 11. Roberts was just named Artist of the Year by the Austin Critics Table, and her playful but poignant collages make it clear why. [Conflict of Interest]

Poet Bao Phi has just released his new book, Thousand Star Hotel. Phi’s family fled Vietnam in ’75, just at the end of the war. Phi talks about how he hopes his book will serve to fill a gap in the mostly nonexistent education that young people receive about Asian American culture in the US. [NPR]

Kysa Johnson’s exhibit As Above So Below, recently opened at the Von Lintel Gallery in LA and will continue through August 12. Johnson’s paintings depict subatomic particle decay patterns—the dust of space represented as chaotic strokes on a black background. LA fans, this is definitely worth a visit. [Hyperallergic]

Danielle Levitt’s new short documentary focuses on a number of young Chicago dancers training in Hiplet. Hiplet is a fusion of ballet on pointe and hip-hop—a reimagining of the predominantly white classical ballet scene. [W Magazine]

The Rumpus holds a symposium to discuss Joni Mitchell’s 1974 album Court and Spark. The nine contributors (music critics, artists, and singer/songwriters) share their feelings and memories relating to the album. Be prepared to get sentimental. [The Rumpus]

Jeremiah Moss is the man behind the blog and soon-to-be book Vanishing New York. The combination of Moss’s love for NYC and the frustration of seeing gentrification take over the city through his photography makes for a depressing but awakening read. [The Village Voice]

The “wedding industrial complex” has been rapidly expanding over the past 40 years—the phenomena that gave birth to the culturally rich Say Yes To The Dress and cheesy wedding #hashtags—all thanks to one Martha Stewart coffee table book. The massive and elegant book, Martha Stewart Weddings, is credited with sparking the transformation of weddings from being just a ceremony into a type of performance art. [The Atlantic]

Natalie Walrath

 
 

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