Best Encounters of 2017

 

All the stuff I’ll still be thinking about in 2018.

Novel

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

“Lydia is dead.”

The first line of Ng’s debut novel, which came out in 2014 I know, I know. I read it this past summer. A master of timeline and perspective, Ng invites the reader to seamlessly inhabit one member of the Lee family after another, jumping backwards and forwards and across generations as the story unfolds. A book on the mechanics of understanding, of discrimination and the desire to belong, the languages of love and their incongruences.

 

Short Stories

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

ripper

[rip-er]
—noun

5. Mining. a hooklike tool, attached to earth-moving machinery, for tearing away ore, rock, etc.

 

Rarely do I come across a short story collection I’ll read in full. I’m part-way through Gay’s January ripper Difficult Women and I know I’ll be picking every last word from betwixt my proverbial teeth. Gay is a brilliant writer. She knows men, she knows women, she knows racism and desire and love and power and family and pain. In this brutal-beautiful collection, she conveys it all sharply and succinctly.

 

Short Story

“The Tomb of Wrestling” by Jo Ann Beard, Tin House

In Beard’s masterpiece of a story, we are taken on a journey across time, locale, and species, all these travels blossoming inside a 20-minute country home intrusion. It is perfect.

“The Metal Bowl” by Miranda July, The New Yorker

“He cupped the two halves of my tush and spoke directly to them. ‘Run away with me, girls,’ he whispered. ‘She doesn’t understand our love.’”

July’s quirky story, published soon after the artist-author-filmmaker opened a pop-up interfaith charity shop at Selfridges luxury department store in London this fall, is sexy, sweet, and intelligent.

 

Micro-Story

“Industry Disruption” by Emily Rudolph, matchbook’s Ad Stories, Volume 5

C’est délicieux.

 

TV

“I Love Dick,” Jill Soloway

 

An ode to the Masculine and the Feminine for the ages. Or at least this age. Based on the 1997 novel by Chris Kraus.

 

Article

“Why we fell for clean eating” by Bee Wilson, The Guardian

Why one dietician calls almond milk “expensive water,” and other important things to consider, especially this time of year.

 

Essay

“Excommunicate Me from the Church of Social Justice” by Frances Lee, Autostraddle

A queer, trans person of color suggests checking one’s moral superiority precedes progress.

“Surviving as Working Class After Backpage” by Kelly Michaels, Tits and Sass

Michaels documents her transition from sex work to the trucking industry after Backpage shut down its Adult Services section. Guess which career brought her into debt bondage?

“Donning the Mask” by Elihu Rubin, Paprika

Never would have thought about the interplay of buildings, psychology, and Shakespeare before stumbling upon Rubin’s architectural essay.

 

Dance

Jasmine Rafael, Macy Jewelinski, Janusz Jotpe

 

6lack’s “Gettin Old” by Jasmine Rafael lights up when Macy Jewelinski and Janusz Jotpe take the floor.

Parris. Goebel.

 

Film

“Arrival”

 

A 2016 release I encountered this year. But what is time anyway? Ask Louise Banks, the linguistics professor at the helm of “Arrival,” written by Eric Heisserer, directed by Denis Villeneuve, and based on the 1998 short story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang. Jóhann Jóhannsson’s haunting majesty of a score colors an existential-extraterrestrial tale on the origins and limits of communication and connection.

 

Poem

“Vanity Salute” by Stefanie Botelho, Lavender Review

From the beginning of the night to its ending, see each moment in Botelho’s poem like a sultry Hollywood classic projected on your bedroom wall.

 

Music

“Big Little Lies” Soundtrack

 

One of few redeemable characters in HBO’s dark Monteray drama “Big Little Lies” is Chloe, main character Madeline’s bright, first-grade daughter with savant-like musical taste. The show’s soundtrack features the likes of Leon Bridges, Elvis, Martha Wainwright, Charles Bradley, and Irma Thomas for a shimmering mix of new and old.

“It’s Cool, It’s Whatever” by Laundry Day

 

New Haven faves Laundry Day released their much anticipated indie rock full-length, and this New Haven-y video.

“Sound and Color” by Alabama Shakes

 

I’m late, but this record’s a stunner.

“You Are Not A Surface” by Witch Hair

A most welcoming track from another rocking Connecticut outfit.

 

Art

Michael Angelis

“The Gentler Side of Mankind’s Death Wish,” Michael Angelis. Oil on panel, 13″ x 13″. 2017.

New Haven artist Michael Angelis, well-known for his flux-focused landscape paintings, has departed with a new series of iconographic work. Gems, rings, phones, teeth, and anatomical hearts appear against rock and grass, on appendages, or suspended in some otherly ether within an unfolded Chinese food container. From Mike:

“The symbolism of that imagery has personal meaning around themes of value, loss, hierarchy, authenticity and consumption. These themes I feel have always been present in my work, but were expressed more outwardly or perhaps subjectively in earlier pieces . . .”

 

Podcast

“Invisibilia”

Latin for “invisible things,” NPR’s “Invisibilia” explores human behavior through a scientific, narrative lens. Have you ever felt liget before? Not legit, but liget. A two-parter episode from Season 3, “Emotions” delves into all the feels with a car accident and one anthropologist’s experience with a headhunting tribe in the Philippines.

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