Stephen King stipulated 2 non-negotiable rules for all writers: read and write EVERY DAY. I’m ashamed to say that I don’t read books as often as I should, but I otherwise fulfill the latter any way I can. (Shout out to the collection of Sylvia Plath poems that came in 2 weeks ago and I still haven’t read.) My typical day as a freelancer involves managing company blogs during the day, and editing novellas and manuscripts at night. I am contingent upon staying at my laptop for as long as possible because if I peel away from my desk for too long, I am NEVER coming back.
So I take 15-20 minute breaks in between projects. Lots of them. Enough to cover an article and get my reading in before I resume staring at my computer for an even longer period of time. (A book is starting to sound really good right now.) What surprised me was that this routine left me with an entire folder full of bookmarked articles. I started sorting through them and I was left with a list of solid reading recommendations. These film essays, news reports, and profiles engaged my wandering mind and maybe they’ll do the same for you. Whether I’ll do this every month remains to be seen, but since I’m procrastinating super hard right now, I may as well be helpful to someone looking for a worthwhile read.
The Work Never Ends – Bright Wall/Dark Room
Sharp Objects is one of my favorite things to come out of HBO since Big Little Lies and True Detective. I’ve been having serious withdrawals since the show ended, but all the articles and analyses that have come out since have been helping me cope tremendously. This essay written by Katherine Webb is my favorite piece on the show so far. Elegantly and personally written (no surprise since it’s from BW/DR), Webb is as lyrical in her essay as Sharp Objects is poetic on memory and trauma. For Preaker-heads (tentative fan-club name), this is a must read. While you’re at it, check out these weekly recaps from Cinematic Corner.
The Mystery of Tucker Carlson – Columbia Journalism Review
This profile on the infamous Fox News anchor by Lyz Lenz is the funniest thing I’ve read all month. Lenz’s deft humor on a man who’s painfully unfunny is the perfect one-two punch. How she manages to chronicle his blunt and boisterous beliefs and do so in a highly engaging manner, kudos all around. Damn fine reporting here, only matched by her fortitude and enduring a conversation with the fucker. I will never read anything about Tucker Carlson. Unless it’s written by her.
A Unified Theory Of Keira Knightley – Buzzfeed Reader
Anne Helen Petersen takes us through Keira Knightley’s centuries-spanning range of roles – from Elizabeth Bennet and Domino Harvey to Cecilia Tallis and Anna Karenina – and zeroes in on some fascinating questions. Has Keira Knightley been quietly leading the revolt against the patriarchy since Bend It Like Beckham? And recognizing their inclination towards period dramas, were Saoirse Ronan and Knightley born too early or too late? A veryyy interesting case study.
What ‘Sorry For Your Loss’ Understands About Grief – The Atlantic
I start my day reading the The Atlantic’s latest in the culture section. They’re succinct enough to get the mind churning and feeling accomplished during those groggy early mornings. Sophie Gilbert’s review ensured that I was going to add Sorry For Your Loss to my ever-growing list of must-see media. I had my eye on the show when I heard that Elizabeth Olsen AND Kelly Marie Tran were both starring in it. Facebook Watch is a curious place to debut a scripted series with sublime leading talent. I am more than happy to overlook my growing indifference to the platform to check out this series.
Soon-Yi Previn on Mia Farrow and Woody Allen – New York Magazine
“Best” might not be the proper word to describe this. (Disturbing, more like.) But I included the article on this list because it’s an interesting case study on how to NOT reveal all in a magazine profile. The Johnny Depp Rolling Stone piece comes to mind. This profile is astonishing in how it tries to paint a sympathetic portrait of Soon-Yi and Woody Allen, but actually makes their dynamic all the more unsettling. The pull quotes are damning (“I wasn’t the one who went after Woody — where would I get the nerve? He pursued me”) and the piece’s credibility is questionable (“I myself have been friends with Allen for over four decades”). Talk about a back-fire.
DO read this excellent report on the allegations surrounding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. It’s especially startling at this moment in time. We are approaching a year to the date when the Weinstein story broke, yet the conversations surrounding sexual assault are no less evolved. Notions of accountability, too, have only gotten worse. (22 women have come out against Trump and yet the GOP, despite crying foul over the likes of Al Franken and Eric Schneiderman, have a noted disinterest in holding their own leader responsible.) Nonetheless, this is some explosive reporting of an ongoing saga by two of the most essential investigative reporters we have. Woodward and Bernstein, meet Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow.
Mourning at the Magic Kingdom – Slate
Writer Nicole Chung goes to Disney World just days after her father’s funeral. Does that mean she’s neglecting her father’s loss? Or is she coping with it? This essay touches on a gray area in loss and in death: does grieving have to mean crying in your lonesome while shrouded in darkness, or can you just as well carry your grief with you – juxtaposed by Nicole suddenly finding herself dazzled and destroyed by a show of fireworks at the happiest place on Earth. Kinda makes you wonder how many other families might be going through this while waiting in line at Space Mountain.
Hereditary: Mourning in Miniature – Entropy
I have only seen Hereditary once and I’m not so sure if I’ll watch it again. (Maybe when there’s light out?) I say that out of reverence for the material. This piece by Nicole Cooley offers a deep dive on the dollhouse motif of the film and the external forces that render the Graham family hopeless in their circumstances. The devil, quite fiendishly, is in the details. Also check out Lindsey Romain’s essay on Hereditary.
I just realized I’ve read a lot of depressing stuff last month. Mental health is another crucial topic we seldom discuss, which is puzzling considering we all experience trauma and process it differently. Writers often engage in the ritual recording of traumatic memories out of a long-held belief that writing it down can set us free. But that belief is a double-edged sword. As Arianna Rebolini so eloquently and tragically puts it, it is “self-destruction disguised as self-care.” She cites the great Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath as writers who gave room and voice to their suffering in hopes for a better future. (Plath went on to commit suicide.) Stories like Sharp Objects, Hereditary, and Sorry For Your Loss all demonstrate and caution (and perhaps why I’m so drawn to them) that there is no getting rid of your trauma. We must learn to live with it.