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Iľja Rákoš

Saul Rubinek Makin' Mov(i)es in Kyiv

on life and love and six decades spent on stage

Saul Rubinek, via Toronto-Hollywood-New York, found himself in Kyiv last year working on an insane, independent, and sophisticatedly-nationally-hyphenated Olias Barco film.  This actor, who as I assert, makes every film suddenly smarter by appearing on screen, is a blast as an interview. We scheduled two hours together and we took . . .

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September 24, 2016

Beauty and Loss are One

a review of "Cities of the Plain" by Cormac McCarthy

"Quinquagesima Sunday in the predawn dark she lit a candle and set the candledish on the floor beside the bureau where the light would not show beneath the doorway to the outer hall."

In this quiet, yet foreboding scene from Cities of the Plain, the final installment of Cormac McCarthy's "Border Trilogy", a young woman prepares to steal . . .

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August 26, 2016

Ambrose Akinmusire and Jazz in the Smoldering City: A Dispatch From Kyiv

Ambrose Akinmusire was coming to Kyiv to play a gig at "Closer", a jazz and electronic music venue a few minutes' walk from my flat. What the hell?

Don't get me wrong: I love Kyiv, and my neighborhood is one of the finest inner-urban settings a writer could ask for in which to put his ass in the chair, but Kyiv, as a city, as a center of . . .

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August 23, 2016

Four Gorgeous Novels in non-normative English

where 3rd grade teachers go to die

There’s this old argument between the Descriptivists and the Prescriptivists and it goes something like this.  The “Descript-” side insists that human language is a shifting, morphing, breathing thing. It takes on whatever forms or structures it requires, and leaves us with a dictionary that, theoretically, begs to be . . .

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August 22, 2016

Svetlana Alexievich Is No Useful Idiot

 

Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2015 for work she has produced over the last 30 years chronicling the troubled history of the USSR.  What you see here is my interview with her and my further consideration of her importance to world culture; the piece was released originally on 23 May 2016 at "The . . .

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August 13, 2016

The Colossal Heart of This People

a review of "The Tsar of Love & Techno" by Anthony Marra

The rule: if you happen to have been born in the west, never attempt to write a novel about Russia because you’ll get it wrong. For too long, English-language attempts at plumbing – in fiction – the depths of the Russian mystique have resulted in some patently awful genre writing that typically features a silly pastiche of . . .

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August 12, 2016

Horace & Pete

or, Why I Don't Watch TV

"I don't watch TV" says the lumbersexual pulverizing the smoothie I ordered because it's too hot for coffee. "The ads are the show!" he adds, and shakes his head just subtly enough that his right eye doesn't waver from the iPad tented there near the blender.

In hindsight, I'd be dishonest if I said I'd thought this through . . .

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August 06, 2016

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