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Southern Gothic Punk: Reading Nell Zink’s ‘Mislaid’

If Flannery O’Connor somehow birthed the love child of Sid Vicious, she might end up sounding like novelist Nell Zink. Equal parts Southern Gothic’s grotesquely twisted charm and punk and alternative music’s insiderish anti-establishmentism, Zink’s second novel Mislaid will disorient you until you let it delight you. Zink’s mix — which I’ll call Southern Gothic Punk — might be an acquired taste, but a taste well worth experiencing if only to break out of the contemporary rut of MFA-programed, sound-alike fiction that’s become the bubblegum pop of today’s literature.

JFK: The Opera?

Whereas European countries were once able to tap into their history for subjects for opera, America’s never succeeded in doing the same. That problem comes in part from the decline in opera as a popular, public art form, but also perhaps from the lack of operatically epic subjects to be found in American history. Now, composer David T. Little hopes to create a modern American opera with JFK, a 2-act, 2-hour opera focusing on the life of President John F. Kennedy, whose life and death became defining moments not only for the Baby Boom generation, but also, many would suggest, the hinge upon which all American history turns for the last half century. Set to premier in 2016, JFK as a work-in-progress already raises important questions about how opera (and art in general) can approach history.

Seeing Art the Way Jane Austen Saw it

On May 24, 1813, just months after publishing Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen went to a show in search of her female hero. ”I dare say Mrs. D[arcy] will be […]

Modern Art Is Indebted To Descartes

Writers and historians enjoy making the case for one or another thinker as the starting point for an epoch. Did Galileo launch the scientific revolution? Or was it Copernicus? Or […]

Can the Visual Arts Have the Blues?

“Ain’t got no rest in my slumbers/ Ain’t got no feelings to bruise/ Ain’t got no telephone numbers/ I ain’t got nothing but the blues,” goes Jazz composer Duke Ellington’s […]

SSA Week Day 6/7: My Picks

Today’s the last day of SSA Week, and the end is in sight! At the time of this writing, we’ve raised just over $88,000 out of a target of $100,000. […]

People of Light and Darkness

The big news this week is that the Large Hadron Collider, the massive particle accelerator at the European physics lab CERN, has apparently discovered the elusive and long-sought subatomic particle […]