Recommended reading: On “Homer’s Crowdsourced Genius.”
"Let the buppie and the arts section go to hell: Swiss Army Man is a film by which critics ought to judge ourselves. We have seen this movie before, in our dreams, when we were children. Its extraordinary contact with our oldest forms of storytelling seems to have rendered it an unintelligible novelty, but if we can’t see how gracefully everything in it matters to everything else in it — plot to character development to dialogue to music to art direction to setting to acting to cinematography — then there’s something wrong with us." Daniel Radcliffe stars as a semi-animate, gas-filled corpse with amnesia in Swiss Army Man -- a movie about farts. But what else is it about?
What is deracination, and why is it key to understanding American fiction? In her novel Housekeeping, Pulitzer laureate Marilynne Robinson defines it as “the free appreciation of whatever comes under one’s eye,” inspired by the Western sentiment of “feeling no tie of particularity to any single past or history.” In the Boston Review, Jess Row states that deracination is “a long-lived and nearly universal trope in white American literature,” claiming it represents “an American ideal: not to strip from the roots, but to de-race oneself.”
Good news! According to Vinson Cunningham’s new essay in The New Yorker, beauty merely “masks and perfumes ... it freezes moral categories in place,” whereas ugliness, on the other hand, “is sometimes the closest thing to the truth.” Wait, is that good news? Bonus: Vinson wrote a Year in Reading piece for us.