Selected Writing

Absence of Malick

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A new DVD of The Thin Red Line suggests Terrence Malick is as much a mystery to his actors and crew as he is to us. Even before it arrived in theaters at the end of 1998, the World War II drama The Thin Red Line was a film defined by unexplained absences. Its director,…

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Mad Men’s greatest subject was women in the workplace.

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Matthew Weiner’s great subject wasn’t masculine self-invention or the advertising business or the 1960s—it was women in the workplace. here are many ways to choose the best-ever line from seven hugely quotable seasons of Mad Men. You could pick a salient passage from the Draper Doctrine of market-driven nihilism. You could open a pot of…

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Mother of Invention

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On Jenny Offill’s Dept of Speculation for BookForum. In 1999, Jenny Offill published her first novel, Last Things, written in the voice of a girl caught between her passive scientist father and her mother, an increasingly unstable fabulist who takes her daughter on the run to nowhere in particular. Startlingly assured in inhabiting a child’s…

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Bring Up the Bodies By Hilary Mantel

Bring Up the Bodies

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On Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies (BookForum) Hilary Mantel’s 2009 novel, Wolf Hall, was an extraordinary achievement, a work of historical and artistic integrity that nonetheless managed to be a hit across genders, generations, and sensibilities. I know a twentysomething male worshipper of Thomas Bernhard who loves it, and I know a retired female…

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Are You a Boy or a Girl?

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It starts with a gender-reveal celebration, and it culminates at the door of a bathroom in North Carolina.

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Ivanka and Donald Trump

Ivanka Trump Makes Donald Even Scarier

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Ivanka Trump achieved her status as the best reality television character the genre has ever produced on her father’s NBC program Celebrity Apprentice. This was an arena in which the likes of Tom Green, Dennis Rodman, Andrew “Dice” Clay, and other reanimated wax figures from the Museum of Déjà Vu would vie to create a…

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The Kim Kardashian Game Is So Good I Had to Stop Playing It

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It’s not surprising that the mobile game Kim Kardashian: Hollywood is expected to generate $200 million in annual revenue, because Kim Kardashian generates money the way that most people generate carbon dioxide. She earned $28 million in the past 12 months simply by showing up at events, showing up on TV, and showing up (albeit…

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I Want to Live in Spike Jonze’s Future

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Great pants. A reassuringly familiar undertone of melancholy. Warning! This piece contains spoilers for Spike Jonze’s new movie, Her. The near future is usually an appalling place, where designer babies are delivered via drone and preschoolers learn Java via brain wave–reading headbands and private security forces of headless mechanical boars stalk our office parks at…

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You Really Should See the New Mandela Movie

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Though it has already broken box-office records in South Africa, the new biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom has gotten mostly middling reviews, or worse. Scott Tobias of the Dissolve wrote that this “dull, glossy, and uncomplicated film” provides “a lesson in how not to make a historical biopic.” Writing in Variety, Scott Foundas called…

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Do animals know they are dying?

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I Am Convinced My Cat Told Me She Was Dying. Am I Crazy?

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