The Futility of Chasing a “Successful” Writing Career

The writer Emily Gould has a lovely essay for Medium this week — an excerpt from a new book of essays called MFA vs. NYC — on the way her Big Triumph, the sale of a book of essays for the fantastic sum of $200,000, turned out to be a sort of professional albatross. “It took me a while to realize that my book had failed. No one ever told me point-blank that it had,” she writes. “It was more like the failure occurred in tiny increments over the course of two years, after which it was too late to develop a solid Plan B.” … Read More

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‘True Detective’ Season 1 Episode 6 Recap: “Haunted Houses”

Episode 6 was a bit of a bridge episode, one which wasn’t action-packed in quite the way we’ve come to expect, and which sort of fell prey to some of the weaker tropes of the genre the show operates in. A lot of boobs and belligerence, in other words. Marty starts off the action in full bro form by heading into the cell where the young men who were arrested with his daughter were kept. And, you know, beating them up. We’re in 2002, here, and it’s pretty obvious that Marty’s masculinity has been somehow wounded by this whole thing with his daughter. … Read More

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An Up-to-Date Guide to Internet Theories About ‘True Detective’

Possibly you’ve noticed, but a lot of people on the internet are obsessing over True Detective, hanging out all day every day on Reddit or the True Detective Facebook page, offering frankly incredible levels of detail in their analyses of the show. The amount of intricacy involved in their interpretive work would impress some biblical scholars, I think. Here’s a survey and my own take on these theories, starting with the most… Read More

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Completely Unsolicited Advice on How to Give an Acceptable Oscar Speech

I’m never going to win an Oscar. It’s just not going to happen, I have accepted it. But years of watching them have left me with a large and highly developed set of opinions about how one ought to behave in the wake of winning an Oscar. Not that anyone’s asking me, but I think there are a considerable number of publicists and stars out there in search of guidance, guidance on how to win the next-morning debate about whether you Did The Oscar Speech Right. The first and by far the most important guideline boils down to this: … Read More

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Kevin Roose’s ‘Young Money’ Is About Wall Street’s Misery, Not Its Debauchery

It’s not exactly news that a lot of people who work in the finance industry are horrible, terrible, no-good people. In fact, at this point it’s practically an article of faith. In that context, it’s hard to say why a piece by Kevin Roose at New York magazine feels so shocking. He reports on the goings-on at Kappa Beta Phi, a sort of financial fraternity for people too damn old to be in a fraternity. Roose crashed their party, a sort of “roast” whose object seemed to be “politicians, the poor, and basically anyone who’s not actually in the room,” which makes it not at all a roast actually, but no matter. Hijinks ensue! … Read More

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Pundits Playing Themselves on ‘House of Cards’: Weird, Right?

Watching House of Cards over the weekend, one began to rack up a certain number of celebrity pundit sightings. Sean Hannity, Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes — all of them make some kind of appearance on the show. (A weird sideshow involving the former Times, now-Yahoo reporter Matt Bai probably falls into this category too, though he’s not a news anchor per se.) And I confess: I have always found such journalists-playing-themselves appearances well, odd, if not altogether objectionable. I know news anchors have done this since the dawn of time, that Christiane Amanpour was in Iron Man 2 and Brian Williams hung out on 30 Rock. And obviously, working where I work, it’s not that I’m a snot about pop culture, either. In fact, if anything, I think it would behoove most political journalists to get out of their Beltway bubbles more and make contact with the larger culture. … Read More

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An Appreciation of the Under-appreciated Mavis Gallant

The short-story writer Mavis Gallant, who died today at 91, was a writer’s writer. That is a nice way of saying that she wasn’t super-widely read outside the coterie of literary obsessives in America, the kind who flip straight to the fiction pages when the New Yorker arrives, a population which is shrinking every minute. Her ascension was stifled by all the people out there who say, “I love to read, but I hate short stories.” And that’s a shame, because she was a genius, one of the people who could best convey anger and frustration and loss in startlingly beautiful but incredibly economical prose. … Read More

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The Genius, Internet-Friendly Mysteries-in-the-Mystery of ‘True Detective’

True Detective, three episodes from the end, has just started to generate the kind of buzz I think HBO always hoped for it. It’s not just that people like the show. (Though they do like the show.) It’s that it’s become the kind of show whose layered meanings people obsess over. … Read More

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Gather All Ye ‘House of Cards’ Binge-watchers

Note: This post is largely for people who made it to the end of Season Two of House of Cards over the weekend. Meaning: It is replete with spoilers. Read ahead at your own risk. … Read More

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The Sad Truth About Why People Dismiss Bill Cosby’s Accusers

This week, the internet’s been discussing older allegations against America’s Dad, i.e. Bill Cosby. Tom Scocca at Gawker was the first to point out that Cosby has been accused of some pretty serious harassment in the past. After setting out the allegations as reported in the mid-2000s, Scocca notes that they had little impact on either Cosby’s standing in the culture or on his new development deal for a sitcom:

Basically nobody wanted to live in a world where Bill Cosby was a sexual predator. It was too much to handle…

Conceptually, it was the sensible way to deal with it. No one was talking about it anymore. The whole thing had been, and it remained, something walled off from our collective understanding of Bill Cosby.

… Read More

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