Staff Picks: Flavorwire’s Favorite Cultural Things This Week

Need a great book to read, album to listen to, or TV show to get hooked on? The Flavorwire team is here to help: in this new weekly feature, our editorial staffers each recommend the cultural object or experience they’ve enjoyed the most in the past seven days. Click through for our picks, and tell us what you’ve been loving in the comments.

Photo Credit: Michael Appleton
Photo Credit: Michael Appleton

“The Joke’s On Louis C.K.” by Dave Itzkoff

The most inspiring thing I read this week was Dave Itzkoff’s New York Times profile of Louis C.K., and not just because I love pretty much anything related to Louie these days. It’s a piece that’s evocative, charmingly written, and frequently hilarious. But the thing that’s stuck with me since reading it last week is the section in which Louie talks about some of the bold narrative leaps he took on his FX show last season, with multi-episode arcs that seemed to explode the possibilities of the half-hour comedy form. Of that, he tells Itzkoff, “Last season was the first time I sat down and wrote the whole thing. When I wrote the Parker Posey stuff, it was really verbose and long, and I was like, ‘This is supposed to be one episode.’ So I wrote a card that says, ‘This can be anything you want,’ and it sat on my desk the rest of the season.” That’s a card we all need to have close by. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor

a guide to being born

A Guide to Being Born by Ramona Ausubel

This week, I devoured Ramona Ausubel’s forthcoming A Guide to Being Born and can’t stop talking about its incredible cover. Then, of course, there’s its insides; delicious and insightful stories that manage to be both surreal and as close as skin on skin. I’m torn between counting “Atria,” wherein a pregnant teenager is sure she’s growing a magical beast in her womb, or “Tributaries,” where people grow extra arms every time they fall in love, as my favorite. — Emily Temple, Literary Editor

out of sheer rage
Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D.H. Lawrence by Geoff Dyer

Geoff Dyer set out to write a book about D.H. Lawrence, but then he got distracted. Like any biographer, Dyer has trouble separating Lawrence from his work. But it’s more than that; it turns out that this has more to do with Dyer himself. As he shifts about Europe, from Paris to Rome to the Greek islands and back home again to England, Dyer is perpetually restless and lacks the commitment to settle in one place – much to his girlfriend’s chagrin. The emphasis in Out of Sheer Rage really falls on the chaos of the human condition, that of the neurotic writer. So Dyer’s book about D.H. Lawrence isn’t really a book about D.H. Lawrence – at least, if it is, it is in only a very indirect but connected sense. The book is worth reading for its beautiful passages on seeking physical and psychological home alone. Take this one, for instance: “I had an urge to be back there, watching telly, but moving back to England meant moving back into what… I referred to by the the Lawrentian phrase “the soft centre of my being”. Being abroad — anywhere — meant being at the edge of myself, of what I was capable of.” Dyer might be speaking to my very soul. — Chloe Pantazi, Editorial Intern

madmen-don-meganjpg-f1264fd548e50b60

Mad Men Season 6 premiere (AMC)

The Mad Men premiere: It’s cliché, sure, but there are very few things that make grown men and women freak out like preteens before a Harry Potter book release. Not only is watching Mad Men a pleasure, but so is enjoying it with everyone you know (and a dozen or so recappers). It’s good to have it back. — Alison Herman, Editorial Intern

true romance

True Romance by Charli XCX

After half a decade in the music business and a torrent of EPs and mixtapes released over the past year, 20-year-old pop prodigy Charli XCX is finally putting out her first proper studio album. True Romance drops next Tuesday and is streaming now at Pitchfork. Like Grimes and Icona Pop (whose hit single “I Love It” she wrote), Charli’s dark dance tracks are a treat for pop geeks because she knows how the genre works, co-opting and distorting its conventions to create surprising and slightly strange earworms. — Judy Berman, Editor-in-chief

tyrion lannister

Game of Thrones (HBO)

I finally watched Game of Thrones, all in one week. I’m sensitive to violence, hence why I dodged it for so long. But I’m always willing to be tense for an allotted period of time if the bits around the violence are compelling to me (examples include Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, and Quentin Tarantino films). So once I realized I’d be out of the loop of all my friends’ conversations and kept hearing about how no show on TV can match this one, I decided to go on a journey to King’s Landing. Well, I’ve never watched a show faster or neglected to shower for such long periods of time, and the parts that make me queasy are absolutely worth it. This show masters the rules of TV writing before breaking them: anyone can die, protagonists make choices that bother us, and there is barely any underlying Christian-based morality helping us predict who will prevail. I care greatly about nearly every character (and have an intense crush on Tyrion Lannister), and I hope everyone learns from my mistakes and watches this already, because if you’re not a scaredy cat like me, you’ve got no excuse. — Julia Pugachevsky, Editorial Intern

Margaret Thatcher, the year she became leader of the Conservatives

“Russell Brand on Margaret Thatcher: ‘I Always Felt Sorry For Her Children'” by Russell Brand

I choose Russell Brand’s surprisingly excellent reflection on the death of Margaret Thatcher. I’ve kinda always written him off as a bit of a narcissistic twat with silly hair — which, y’know, he is — but in his recent columns for the Guardian (especially this and his recent memoir of addiction), he’s also proven to be an eloquent, intelligent writer. — Tom Hawking, Music Editor