“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.
“Not Hearing the Wood Thrush” by Margaret Gibson
Not Hearing the Wood Thrush attempts to account for everything we cannot see beyond our brief lives. It doesn’t answer each question it asks, nor should it, but instead sends those questions like radio waves into spaces made familiar by memory, then made mystical and strange through the loss that lives there.
Eyes Like Cursors Blinking: On “Conversations with Friends” and “Normal People” by Sally Rooney
What marks the writing as particularly unusual, though, is Rooney’s approach to characterization: one receives the impression that Rooney has a programmatic disinterest in depicting her characters’ inner lives. Or rather—and this, perhaps, is what makes her style feel so distinct—Rooney seems allergic to the leveling that’s entailed in consigning an emotional life to language.
“Death to the Bullshit Artists of South Texas” by Fernando A. Flores
Flores is constantly asking himself: What is real art? Is it the band that jams with feel, the boy who builds confidence, the woman who bleeds on stage, or the avant-garde experimenter? Is it accessible or inaccessible? The answer, Flores seems to argue, depends on whether the creator feels it in his soul.