in Culture Digest | 18 APR 19

Weekend Reading List: The Allure of Ariana Grande, the Idiocy of Bret Easton Ellis

What the frieze editors have been reading this week

in Culture Digest | 18 APR 19

Ariana Grande, 7 Rings, 2019, film still. Courtesy: Republic Records and YouTube

  • ‘The video’s use of the “lesbian narcissism” trope made me do the one thing I really don’t want to: analyse my crush, and consider it in the depressing lineage of mass-marketed lesbian chic.’ From The White Review, Rosanna McLaughlin on Ariana Grande and the lesbian narcissus.
  • ‘Shoot a ninth season, you cowards’: in their Los Angeles Review of Books column, ‘Dear Television’, Aaron Brady and Sarah Mesle respond to the long-awaited return of Game of Thrones.
  • In the Guardian, an interview with Man Booker international prize nominee, Annie Ernaux: ‘In France we hear so much about our culture of seduction, but it’s not seduction, it’s male domination.’
  • What does an image captured 55 million light-years from Earth tell us about humanity’s ‘vulnerable desire for knowledge’? Orit Gat on the first image of a black hole, for frieze.
  • Food-system collapse, sea-level rise, disease: at Rolling Stone, Bill McKibben traces the likely narrative of human extinction.
  • ‘An American who leaves for war never leaves America. The war that is America, rather, comes to the American. The war is the society and the society is the war, and one who sees that war sees America.’ Lyle Jeremy Rubin recalls his time in the US marines, for n+1.
  • ‘Ten days after my diagnosis, doxorubicin will be infused into my body through a port surgically implanted in my chest and connected to my jugular vein. Its name is derived from “ruby,” because it is a brilliant and voluptuous red.’ In the New Yorker, a gut-wrenching chronicle of cancer treatment, by Anne Boyer.
  • And from frieze issue 201, Negar Azimi on Boyer’s recent book of essays, A Handbook of Disappointed Fate (2018), or ‘the perfect antidote to a shitty year’.
  • ‘When I think of when people have freaked out during the past couple of years, I think of the Muslim ban, child separation, and the President saying that there were good people on both sides in Charlottesville. What, as a citizen, do you think would have been appropriate responses?’ ‘I don’t know.’ In the New Yorker, a pleasantly eviscerating interview with Bret Easton Ellis.
  • Fifty shades of white: Lois Beckett on the long fight against racism in romance novels, for the Guardian.

Elvia Wilk, Oval, 2019. Courtesy: Soft Skull Press

  • Granta have published an excerpt from Elvia Wilk’s novel, Oval (forthcoming with Soft Skull), an eco-dystopic tale that has been described by Jonathan Lethem as a ‘superbly-contemporary update of mid-period J.G. Ballard’.
  • Following Kanye West’s ‘Sunday Service’ at Coachella, Aida Amoako breaks down hip-hop’s complex relationship with the church.
  • Following the recent climate change protests in London, which saw roads blocked and Shell’s headquarters targeted, we revisit Mel Evans’s feature on the role of art in environmental protests.
  • ‘In some way he found it impossible to imagine how another person could have a view of him, or of themselves, that didn’t accord with his own. “Every good story needs a Judas,” he said.’ Following the arrest of Julian Assange, we revisit Andrew O’Hagan’s opus, ‘Ghosting’, published in London Review of Books in 2014.
  • ‘There’s no speech that doesn’t come with baggage’: from frieze issue 202, a round-table on free speech featuring Hannah Black, Howie Chen, Jamillah James, Ajay Kurian and Suhail Malik.
  • And at the New York Times, a multi-authored portfolio on the many possible futures of privacy, featuring articles from Sarah Jeong, KJ Dell’Antonia and Emily Chang.
  • ‘All this suggests that Johnson was eerily like sinister characters in two 1946 films, Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious and Orson Welles’s The Stranger, which portrayed wealthy fifth columnists who surreptitiously worked in the upper echelons of society to advance the Nazi cause in this hemisphere.’ Mark Lamster on a new biography of architect Philip Johnson, for the New York Review of Books.
  • And finally, Aaron Peck, for frieze, on witnessing the burning of Paris first-hand.