Misrepresenting Rural Poverty: The New Country Noir and the Lives it ForgetsFrom the Print

We’re living in a golden decade for rural escapist fare: the latest, most extreme iteration of a cultural construct that effectively removes people living there from society’s list of concerns. The effect of these savvy new Westerns is, in some ways, even more insidious than their progenitors’, since they incorporate the countryside’s decline into the genre’s standard narrative, and, in so doing, effectively ignore that decline by aestheticizing it. Now the cowboys aren’t discovering the west, they’re preserving it, this parallel society living alongside ours, all unknown and neglected folkways and byways, comfortingly unchanged in the face of global hyperactivity…

The Weight of Words

We felt that people still respond to a beautifully printed object—and that the quiet, solitude, and time requested by such an object make for the best environment for encountering certain voices.

Regarding Diptychs

And yet, there is no escaping the strength of the number three. A triangle is the sturdiest shape in architecture. The Buckminster Fuller geodesic dome, the pyramids, the molecular structure of diamond—all derive their stability from the strength of three. And of course, the Christian Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—a holy triptych that collapses into one idea: God. The diptych can’t escape this rule of three, and perhaps this is also part of its power. Just as the triptych is secretly a portrait, the diptych is, in a sense, a triptych…

Staff Picks: Print Favorites

This October, the American Reader is going (almost) all print. In celebration of this shift, the editors have put together an unranked list of twenty of our favorite stories, poems, plays and essays that have appeared in our print edition over the past two years.

What Will Happen to Kim Kardashian in the Revolution?

Guy Debord tells us the spectacle is what our modern economy looks like: it is what we have produced, and what we consume, congealed into an image. “The spectacle is capital to such a degree of accumulation that it becomes an image.” In an earlier piece, I suggested that the capital accumulated in the images of Ferguson is our squandered defense budget, expressed on suburb streets and pointed at our own citizens.

It all makes more sense if you don’t distinguish between E! and CNN, between Kim Kardashian and Rosemary Church. The TV is just trying to entertain you, to give you what you want to see so you’ll keep buying. That is, you who it thinks it knows but no longer does…

The Prince Returns: In Defense of Lawrence Durrell

And now, in 2014, Durrell has failed to be appreciated in any substantial way by modern audiences. In fact, the opposite is true: he is positively derided in most serious literary circles nowadays, and his books are rarely studied in universities. His novels are said to be antiquated and selfish, indulgent and over-written. His prose, once thought to be incisive and muscular, is now judged as florid and confusing…

Gaza, Ferguson, and the Perils of White Guilt

On Monday night, a ninety-year-old woman named Hedy Epstein in Ferguson, MO, was arrested wearing a t-shirt that said, “Stay Human.” This was the tenth day of protests over the murder of unarmed teen Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson. Epstein, a Holocaust survivor and a Jew, said of her arrest, “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I’d have to do it when I was ninety”…

“Real Pretend People”: An Interview with Justin Taylor

The characters are products of that world but they are also the justification for its existence (which I recognize is itself a thoroughly religious notion), so the characters and their world have a necessarily symbiotic relationship, which means that in order to get the story to a point of completion the characters must feel completed too. If anything else could be done with them then the story would simply not be over. But of course nothing is final, least of all completion. That’s just a noble(ish) lie we tell ourselves so we know when to turn the printer on…