Milkman, Anna Burns (h/t Helena)
- Our book club’s selection for this month. I found it a chore to get through and what little action takes place is usually accompanied by the narrator’s lengthy and purposely anti-climactic tangents that remove the reader from the action for several unindented pages at a time
- My reading of the depicted setting divided characters into “shinies”–those made to be outcasts by often harmless idiosyncrasies—and characters who personify the oppressive and violent setting of the time speaking and acting like video-game NPCs, working collectively as a shame-weaponizing ecosystem to combat the shinies in a manner I think I will be the first to compare to the Shimmer in Annihilation. The novel eschews names for its characters and the defining events, parties, and even countries and cities of its 1970s Troubles setting, which to me contributed to a compellingly sinister and hyper-simplified, almost science-fictionalized version of a specific place in history. Most in our book club saw it as far more realistically grounded than I did, but I really prefer the Cary Fukunaga/Hiro Murai-inspired television adaptation that played in my head while reading. It’s sinister and disturbing at times and delightfully weird at other points.
- Overall, I would hesitate to recommend because of the effort required to read it even though the writing is bleakly funny in several places. I’ve already told a friend to deprioritize it on his reading list, but at the same time, its selection has improved my opinion of the Man Booker committee.
At just over three years old, the Southeast Asia-focused literary quarterly is thriving. A New York Times profile from last year :
Minh Bui Jones… saw the magazine as a vehicle for cross-border connections in a region that lacks a sense of a shared historical narrative.
According to Mr. Bui Jones, it also aims to be for Southeast Asia what he said The New York Review of Books and The London Review of Books had been since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001: “brave, trenchant critics of their respective governments.”
The Mekong Review is a long shot on many levels, not least because it covers a region where English literacy is patchy, postal systems are unreliable and newspapers that are not controlled by governments tend to struggle against censorship and chronic financial constraints.
…Then he must arrange delivery of the magazine’s 2,000-copy print run to Southeast Asian cities that are hundreds of miles apart. Mr. Bui Jones said he has an ad hoc distribution system that relies on friends who “mule” copies by plane, bus, tuk tuk and motorbike, and that he also moonlights as a deliveryman when he visits the region.
- Their recent interview with Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s 93-year-old prime minister (paywalled)
- Viet Thanh Nguyen, MacArthur fellow and author of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize winner The Sympathizer, has contributed a piece about Vietnamese-American literature (paywalled)
We have a lot of black players without fathers. And to me that’s a story that needs to be talked about, because it’s difficult for the black coach sometimes. The black male figures in a lot of these guys’ lives have burned them. So, being coached by us, some people think it’s easier when actually it’s harder.
The best album of 2018
- Mitski’s Be the Cowboy, according to Consequence of Sound , Vulture , and The Line of Best Fit . It ranks second for the New York Times and NPR . (Update: also #1 for Pitchfork )
- I was at the same London show as the Best Fit writer. I would venture a guess that at least a third of the crowd were LGBTQ couples, which was surprising to me because Mitski’s music neither lyrically nor sonically make for an obvious union of indie and queer subcultures. Even within the broad indie rock genre, hers is a less accessible sound, her previous album pretty much defined by its distorted guitar (the Guardian recently called her work “the emotional Tough Mudder of indie rock"… OK, sure).
- I find myself liking a lot of Mitski-adjacent artists but neither Puberty 2 nor this album have hit for me, what am I missing? I do like “Two Slow Dancers” off this album and “Your Best American Girl” off Puberty 2 was one of my favorite songs of 2016. There’s a great episode of the Song Exploder podcast about the last one.
- Mitski on the Daily Show in September: “The cowboy myth is so appealing to me especially because I’m an Asian woman. That idea of not having to apologize is so American: riding into town, wrecking shit, and then walking out like he’s the hero.”
Time lapse of the 32 days of filming required to shoot the sushi scene in Wes Anderson’s stop-motion Isle of Dogs (2018)
Not really a fan of Wes Anderson’s movies except for The Fantastic Mr. Fox but the final product is one of my favorite scenes of the year: