The City of Houston is a Labyrinth: Bryan Washington’s “Lot”
Washington’s Lot is an entrancing work that explores the perpetual identity crisis that is Houston’s greatest gift and curse; what we get is a smorgasbord of different approaches to being a Houstonian and reconciling that maybe, just maybe, identifying with something, whether it be familia, a space, a history, isn’t enough in this lot in life.
Wakes of Joy: On Ross Gay’s “The Book of Delights”
Gay declares every day an occasion to commemorate, similar to how the sun, when rising, also beams. Delight, he says, “suggests both ‘of light’ and ‘without light.’ And both of them concurrently is what I’m talking about. What I think I’m talking about. Being of and without at once. Or: joy.”
Considering Danger: Isolation and Initiation in “The Collected Schizophrenias”
This is a collection that demands, and excavates space, for Wang to be heard on her own terms. She speaks not to people who want to witness her but rather to people who are like her, people have been forced to look at their illnesses from the outside in for as long as mental illness has texturized fictional landscapes with fear and spectacle.
The Audacity of Equality: Fearless Storytelling in Hasan Minhaj’s “Homecoming King”
Homecoming King demonstrates [Minhaj’s] ironic and witty comedy as both self-deprecating and culture-critiquing, nostalgic and of-the-moment, appealing to both the mainstream and the marginalized.
“Hold Yourself Still”: Jenny Odell Would Now Like Your Attention
Refreshingly, How to Do Nothing does not ask its readers to throw their phone out a window or delete their social media accounts or snub their nose at a society that creatively stymies them. Odell writes: “I am less interested in a mass exodus from Facebook and Twitter than I am in a mass movement of attention: what happens when people regain control over their attention and begin to redirect it again, together.”
An Inventory of Erasure: Limbo and Lucidity in “Lost Children Archive”
Luiselli nor her narrator are archival amateurs. They are detached, sophisticated. They speak to us less out of love than out of duty. Luiselli the humanist is also a moralist; she refuses to get high on her own supply. She writes that her son’s frustration at choosing what to photograph as they drive “across this strange, beautiful, dark country, is simply a sign of how our ways of documenting the world have fallen short.”
“bury it” by sam sax
sax’s poetry recognizes the significance of our interwoven human experience. This work entangles past and present, emphasizing the relevancy of all experiences . . . The reader becomes a part of the show because we are all cast members in this dark production called life. Like sax’s poems in bury it, each of us is a chapter in the production of our interconnected lives.
Look What You’ve Done: Recontextualizing Drake’s “Take Care”
When Drake sings to an ambiguous “you,” it seldom seems to be directed at a particular individual, but to a composite feeling of anxiety and loneliness that serves as the simulacrum of a real person, a character that could feasibly contain anyone.