Appetites: Critic's Corner

Ladies of letters

Well hello there.

Oops, I did it again. I got lazy on Sunday, choosing to take a long walk that led to a pizza lunch, which ultimately ended in a carb-induced haze. Sorry?

I don’t know how it is where you are, but here it’s one of those perfect in-between-the-seasons days that gets me all geared up for the cozy crispness of autumn. I’ve recently taken an informal poll of a few fellow New Englanders and the consensus is that Fall is our season. It lives in our bones, stirring with the crunch of leaves underfoot and that first plume of chimney smoke rising over the rooftops. As nice as these hanger-on sunny-and-70 days might be, I’m longing for the first real snap of cold, impatient for an excuse to break in a new leather jacket or fill the kitchen with the scent of roast chicken.

Bring on the sweater weather!

The Rise of the Creative Class

While I considered just publishing a round-up of all the Beautiful World, Where Are You reviews that filled my inbox with this week’s launch of Sally Rooney’s latest–and there were so, so many–instead I’m just sharing one from novelist Brandon Taylor in the New York Times. Taylor’s newsletter, Sweater Weather (hey would you look at that) is scary-smart and poetic and bitingly funny. God, what I wouldn’t give to be a millennial with an MFA. They are srsly having a moment. Read his recent essay, Bobos in IKEA as a kind of companion piece, where he’s working out some of the themes that end up in his take on Rooney’s novel. And maybe read David Brooks’ Bobos in Paradise redux as a companion to that.

I May Read You

I haven’t even seen Micaela Coel’s award-winning series I May Destroy You yet, for no good reason other than access to the appropriate viewing platform, which is actually not a good excuse at all. But after reading this razor-sharp excerpt from her new book, Misfits: A Personal Manifesto, it's clear that I need to get my VPN and my priorities in order.

The Kids Are Alright

"I understand why listeners sometimes hunger to hear their identities reflected in music, but I also suspect that the hunger for difference can be just as powerful." Kelefa Sanneh, music critic for The New Yorker, is around my age and similarly spent his youth as a ‘part-time punk’ going to the same local shows as me. Brooklyn writer Kenneth Partridge captured and transported me right back to those sweaty nights spent dancing on stage at the Tune Inn, or trekking down to the Boiler Room in New London, following my favorite Connecticut ska band, Spring Heeled Jack wherever they played.

Lady Writers

As much as I loved reading both of the above pieces, I couldn’t help but be reminded that there still aren’t enough women writing about music, myself included. But we do have the badass Jessica Hopper, who kicked off her now pushing-thirty-year-long career as a fellow babe in zineland before taking dream gigs at MTV News and Pitchfork. Hopper recently released an updated edition of The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic, originally published in 2015. In an interview with The Creative Independent earlier this summer, Hopper made these comments, which hit me hard:

I write about talking to some of my peers, meaning dudes who do the same thing that I do for a living, about the experience of going to a show. They’re not speed-walking home, down the middle of the street afterwards. They don’t know what it is to have to do that because you had to stay to see the whole set because you’re reviewing it, and the band did two encores, so it’s straight-up 2 a.m., and you’re a woman by yourself. Speed-walking home down the middle of the street, checking over their shoulder is not part of their professional concert-going experience.

After hours mashing and thrashing about like a kinetic force field, the wave of slippery bodies would spill into the cool night air, gathering and scattering like magnet shavings. Suddenly you’d find yourself utterly alone. I remember the dancing, I remember the ringing in my ears, the thick black X on the back of my hand that wouldn’t wash away for days, but I’ve chosen to forget about all those walks home, keys in hand, heart-racing. Those walks were edited out of the story.

Worth a listen: Jessica Hopper in conversation with Ann Friedman for Powell’s Bookstore (one of the best bookstores in the world, IMO.)

Finally, a PSA:

Just letting you know that I’ve finally entered my Simone de Beauvoir phase.
You have been warned.