Out of the Theater Defeated, Into a Defeated World

Thanos

SPOILER ALERT for Avengers: Infinity War (and The Empire Strikes Back, if anyone truly needs that now). Although I’m far too late for this to qualify as any sort of “hot take”–is “tepid take” a thing?– I’ve put a lot of thought into what bugs me (to put it mildly) about Avengers: Infinity War. And just to be clear, I’ve … Read More

Death Wish, Old and New

Death Wish poster

After seeing commercials for the upcoming Eli Roth remake, I rewatched the original Death Wish from 1974. I was really surprised by how different Death Wish was from what I remembered, and how Roth’s remake, to judge from the trailers, totally misses the point. Yes, Charles Bronson becomes a vigilante after his family is brutally attacked, but that’s just the skeleton … Read More

The Same River Twice: Tender Mercies and Crazy Heart

Crazy Heart poster

Recently I finally caught Jeff Bridges’ Oscar-winning performance in Crazy Heart. And while he was certainly very good, I couldn’t shake the sense that I’d seen this movie before, when it starred Robert Duvall and was called Tender Mercies. Naturally, I’m not the first viewer to notice that. The similarities are striking. Even the protagonists’ names are similarly short, sharp, … Read More

The Two Sides of Every Heart a Doorway

Every Heart a Doorway

In Seanan McGuire’s brilliant (and now award-winning) short novel Every Heart a Doorway, teens who’d once escaped reality to various fairytale realms find themselves back in our world, attending a special boarding school to help them re-acclimate to “reality.” They’re all desperate to return to those places where they felt accepted for who and what they were, and one of … Read More

Some Thoughts from Down at the Crossroads

Crossroads

WARNING: Contains spoilers for the 1986 movie Crossroads (not the 2002 Britney Spears film). If you haven’t seen it, I wholeheartedly recommend it. I recently rewatched Walter Hill’s movie Crossroads, and was surprised by how much I had internalized its depiction of the relationship between music and magic, and how that had influenced my own Tufa novels. I first saw it … Read More

Ode to Billie Joe: the value of the hidden

ode to billie joe single

Yesterday was June 3rd, or as Bobby Gentry describes it: It was the third of June, another sleepy dusty delta day…. That is, of course, from her magnificent ballad “Ode to Billie Joe,” a song as much about what’s unsaid (or unsung) as it is about what’s said. Billy Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge; the singer, a young … Read More

The Point of the End of the Tour

Jesse Eisenberg (David Lipsky) and Jason Segel (David Foster Wallace

The End of the Tour is a film adapted from the memoir Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace, by David Lipsky. It begins with news of Wallace’s suicide* reaching Lipsky, who then digs out his audio tapes from the five days he spent with Wallace at the end of his author’s tour … Read More

Across the same river with The Idylls of the Queen

Idylls of the Queen

Alice Walker wrote The Same River Twice about the process of turning her novel The Color Purple into a movie. The title itself is a paraphrase of the philosopher Heraclitus, and is more fully translated as, “You cannot step twice into the same river, for other waters are continually flowing on.” In 2011, I wrote Dark Jenny, the third in my Eddie … Read More

Film Review: Arthur and Merlin, an unexpected treat

No, that's not Russell Brand on the right.

  Sometimes, if you leave yourself open, you trip over things that speak to you in unexpected ways. A song from an artist you normally can’t stand, a surprisingly wise observation from someone who’s otherwise an idiot, a book by an author you’ve previously (no pun intended) written off. And, if you’re like me, you might stumble on a DVD … Read More

Review: Epitaph, a novel of the OK Corral

OK Corral sign

I loved, unreservedly, Mary Doria Russell’s 2012 novel Doc, about the life of Doc Holliday before the infamous events of the OK Corral in Tombstone, AZ. I was just familiar enough with both the history and mythology of the story to really appreciate the way she wove them together. When I saw she’d written a follow-up, Epitaph—subtitled A Novel of … Read More