What We Loved This Week
The Lit Hub Staff on the Patrick Melrose Novels, the Boston Celtics, and Alan Rickman's head in an urn
Even though I only read a little bit of Beckett in graduate school, my husband wrote a chapter of his dissertation on him, so it’s basically like I did too (right?). Which might explain why this very long week has been punctuated with a bizarre evening ritual of watching Beckett videos on YouTube. It started with a debate over what comes after “Old endgame lost of old…” (it’s “play and lose and have done with losing” – I lost), which led to watching the version of Endgame Conor McPherson directed for the Gate Theatre’s Beckett on Film series (with David Thewlis and Michael Gambon). And after that, it seemed only natural to make our way through the series, from Krapp’s Last Tape with John Hurt to, last night, by myself, Not I with Julianne Moore’s weird big mouth (although not as big or as weird as Billie Whitelaw’s). I do encourage anyone who is going through a moment of unreality/floating ennui to spend some time on YouTube: Beckett. You could always start with Godot (for some familiarity, because eventually you’re going to end up at the one with Alan Rickman’s head in an urn).
–Emily Firetog, Managing Editor
We’ve entered peak cultural psychosis, partly because it’s become the norm to practice empathy by commenting on the spectacle of our culture. Scandal, reaction; abomination, outrage. Trump has been a genius at using this reaction cycle to distract and deflect, and then reinforce the tribal forces that got him elected. I’ve been wondering what happens when you acknowledge that this cycle is broken, and that it is breaking us, so I’ve been rereading Susan Sontag’s Regarding the Pain of Others, her about face on the power of photography—prompted in part by her trip to Sarajevo during its siege, and the knowledge that all the photographic evidence of suffering in the world couldn’t get the U.S. to move a finger to rescue a city being brutalized. It’s so illuminating my hair has stood up all week.
–John Freeman, Executive Editor
In between Celtics’ victories, in which my glorious compadres took down the overhyped Sixers, I was finally watching Better Call Saul and trying to decide whether it wasn’t better than Breaking Bad, a cultural conversation that probably happened a couple years ago, if it happened at all, which probably it didn’t, because other people are more interested in crystal meth cooking than first level doc reviews, but only because they don’t know the mind-numbing, soul-distorting pleasures of a good document binge, like the euphoria that precedes a drowning death.
–Dwyer Murphy, Crime Reads Senior Editor
In preparation for the new Showtime adaptation, I spent the week re-reading Edward St. Aubyn’s Patrick Melrose novels. I think I had blacked out a lot of the vivid descriptions of intravenous drug use! Oh well, if I did it once I can do it again, because otherwise they are wonderful, catty and caustic and knowing—the experience is a bit like getting seated next to someone else’s evil cousin at a fancy dinner party, and finding out everything about everyone. The only other arguably cultural thing I’ve done this week is walk the High Line from tip to tail—it’s the kind of thing you only do when you have visitors in town, but now that the weather is nice, I will remind you all that it’s well worth it, even for the natives.
–Emily Temple, Senior Editor
This has been a good week for extracurricular book-related fun—on Monday, I went to a cocktail reception for Sarah Weinman’s upcoming true crime reckoning with the real-life incident behind the book Lolita, appropriately titled The Real Lolita. Thursday, I went to a book release party for Alex Segura’s new Pete Fernandez mystery, Blackout, and afterwards, checked out a klezmer show.
–Molly Odintz, Crime Reads Associate Editor
Last Sunday I made my annual pilgrimage to Gaelic Park in the Bronx, where the first round of the Connacht Gaelic Football Championship is played. Every year in late April/early May, a team from the western province of Ireland comes to town to kick off the Irish Championship season. In twenty years of participation, New York has never won, and this year, sadly, was no exception. Despite fighting bravely and taking an early lead, the Exiles ultimately managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I’ve also been reading Melissa Broder’s wonderfully entertaining new comic-erotic novel, The Pisces.
–Dan Sheehan, Book Marks Editor
Due to an unforeseen combination of time-sucking events this week—an interminable graduation ceremony, a friend in town, the anxious need to clean every square inch of my apartment in anticipation of a visit from my mom(!) this weekend—I’ve done little reading, watching, or even listening over the past several days. I have, however, done some cooking, thanks in part to this godsend of recipe from Bon Appetit: an extremely quick and easy pasta dish, for which you need only a box of spaghetti, a can of tuna, a splash of olive oil, one clove of garlic, the zest and juice of a lemon, a few grinds of pepper, and a shower of parmesan cheese. It’s been in my weeknight rotation for a while, but lately I’ve been substituting pearled couscous for the pasta and adding a sprinkle of fresh thyme. Not only is this method faster (okay, by like, a minute), I think it may be even more delicious. Go forth and try it out yourself; you can thank me later.
–Jess Bergman, Features Editor