What to do when we’re all monsters

Inspired by the horrors and paradoxes of our current cultural moment (and a Paris Review article by Claire Dederer), I wrote a short piece for Mockingbird: “Love the Art, Hate the Artist?

An excerpt:

When a politician misbehaves, it’s easy (in theory) to wave our hands and say, “Politicians! They’re all filthy.” But when our favorite novelist or comedian or musician misbehaves, we feel conflicted. We feel like we’ve been implicated ourselves. This is how I felt when I learned that Virginia Woolf, one of my all-time favorites, dressed in blackface to a party and was famously cruel and anti-Semitic. We want our artists to be as blameless as we think we are. Our beloved artists made something so good, so beautiful; shouldn’t the end product match the content of their souls?

This is the tricky thing about art: Great art can be created by terrible people.

Read more at Mockingbird.

In other news, we had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday with my family. Full of sincere, deep gratitude for these people (and pups)!

Thanksgiving 2017 Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving 2017 Thanksgiving

More family times Thanksgiving 2017

Favorite books from May

For whatever reason, I apparently didn’t read as much in May as I did in April. These were the best books I read last month.

Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint

Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint, Nadia-Bolz Weber. After hearing Bolz-Weber speak at Mockingbird in April, I felt completely hooked and bought Pastrix as soon as the conference concluded. Part memoir, part testimony, Pastrix chronicles Bolz-Weber’s journey to believe, become sober, and start a church in Denver. Highly recommended.

The Sellout

The Sellout, Paul Beatty. Uncomfortably raucous, Beatty presents a scathing satire of race relations in America, imagining a narrator who decides to re-segregate his California town and take an old black man as his slave.

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, Elizabeth Kolbert. The world is ending, and Kolbert has the science to prove it. A grim but well-written account of how humans are hurtling the planet toward the next great extinction. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

Thousand Cranes (Penguin Modern Classics)

Thousand Cranes, Yasunari Kawabata. I come back to Kawabata over and over again for his lovely, spare, luminous prose. He writes such sad, distant characters, but I am drawn in by them time and time again. I particularly enjoyed the rushes of nostalgia for these places in Japan, specifically Kamakura, and for the gorgeous traditions of Japanese art and tea.

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, Atul Gawande. A compelling account of end-of-life care in America and the drastic changes that need to be made to improve the quality, not quantity, of life for all of us as we near death.

What were some of the best things you read in May?