Category: Reviews
The Apparitionists
The ApparitionistsOf course, like any good history, The Apparitionists also has a distinct air of the present. We’re reading about a religion so new that many Americans worried it was necromancy, but we’re also reading about a time in which new technologies suddenly upended the way people thought about communication, war upended the way people thought about life and death, and unprecedented access to things — newspapers, tourism, “objective” photograph portraits — upended the way people thought about what was true.…
The Taste of Empire
The Taste of Empire“To be a Victorian Englishman was to possess the power to eat the world.” One afternoon in 1748, the Latham family sat down to dinner. They ran a small farm in Lancashire, and their menu was satisfying — beef and vegetable stew, beer, doughy fruit pudding. They grew wheat and barley to make bread, their cows supplied them with milk and cheese, and from their crops (and the women’s cotton textile work) they made enough profit to buy beef.…
What I Wrote: Harlots, Handmaids, Radium, and Dancing
What I Wrote: Harlots, Handmaids, Radium, and DancingThere’s something to be said for Peak TV. Sure, my TV backlog is getting embarrassing and I keep maxing out the number of hours on my recorder and having to watch very strange collections of old episodes in a row trying to juggle the tone shifts in seven shows at once, but man, I’ve been watching some good TV.…
What I Wrote: The Fiscal-Quarter Edition
What I Wrote: The Fiscal-Quarter EditionAs always, these posts begin with a note that I am much better about updating my Twitter about current events than I am about updating this blog with them. Some of that is my fault; some of that is because sometimes you read an announcement about a modern-day King Arthur procedural or an article about how to bother a woman wearing headphones and you just have to say something immediately.…
A Few Hours in a Far-Off Age, and Other Books
A Few Hours in a Far-Off Age, and Other BooksSometimes, you read a book and it leaves you with a giant list of other books you have to tackle. Recently, for NPR, I’ve reviewed a string of great books. The Story of Hong Gildong (in a welcome translation), The Other Slavery (a grueling account of enslavement beyond Africa, in particular Native Americans – avoid the comments), Possession (half a dissertation on art collection as political identity, half tattling on Popes, all amazing).…
Penny Dreadful, and a Blade of Grass
Penny Dreadful, and a Blade of GrassPenny Dreadful, that glorious bastion of subtext-made-text, ended this past weekend, bringing a three-season fascination with Vanessa Ives to a close. The series finale was…a disappointment. I wrote about the problems with this arc in a piece at Salon, so we don’t need to rehash all of it here, but I do want to dig into a few specifics.…