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Thursday, February 20, 2020

Charles Yu Knows The World Isn't Black And White, by Steph Cha, Los Angeles Times

Willis may not become the hero of “Black and White” but he is the hero of his own story; he even gets to be the romantic lead, a turn that at first confuses him, as it’s not a role he thought he could play. Yu wanted to explore the idea of “performing Asianness,” as well as the blurred line between life and performance in general. “We perform lots of stuff every day. I perform a bit when I’m with my parents, as the son, and with my wife, and now with my kids, as a dad. The totality of all the roles we play is basically what we are, and yet even if you add them all up, there’s something underneath that is not captured by any of the roles. There are still cracks between them.”

The Many Disappearances In Run Me To Earth, by Nay Saysourinho, Ploughshares

We wanted people to learn about us—we wanted our stories to be told. And yet, when it was revealed that Yoon’s latest novel, released late last month, would be about the events surrounding our escape, the Lao-American community reacted with mixed feelings. For some, seeing our history discussed at all on national platforms felt like validation. But for many, it felt as if a stranger had assumed our voice. It was like watching the movie of our lives, with our lines dubbed over.

Russia’s Dr. Seuss, by Anthony Madrid, The Paris Review

Russia had a Dr. Seuss. Same deal as ours, except his hot decade wasn’t the fifties; it was the twenties. There’s a lot to be said here.

The Harrison Ford Guide To Phoning It In, by Winston Cook-Wilson, The Ringer

What is actually there? These days, it seems to be mostly an eternal grump factor that transmits strongly even in his gentlest performances. Like other veteran actors who originated numerous classic roles in the 1970s and ’80s and then swam out into toward murkier, choppier water in subsequent decades—mostly looking at you, Al Pacino—it is difficult to pinpoint the special, personalized spark Ford might put into the new roles he takes on. It’s almost impossible to detach him from the deep sociocultural mythology surrounding him and his widely impersonated mannerisms. Sometimes, one wonders whether a certain later-period performance is actually good but our bias is clouding our view—making an actor’s work seem egregious and farcical. Is Pacino’s egomaniacal, washed-up film director in Simone, for example, a logical progression from Michael Corleone? Is Ford’s chillingly unemotional, bowl-cutted Colonel Hyrum Graff in the aesthetically ghastly 2013 Ender’s Game adaptation actually his best sci-fi role? When I die and access the objective aesthetic truth of the world from the afterlife, I hope to resolve ambiguities like these immediately.

When Road Trips Cross Continents, Be Ready For Anything, by Mercedes Lilienthal, New York Times

“Maybe not funny at the time, but it broke down every day,” he said. One night when it was minus 18 degrees Celsius in eastern Turkey, “helpful locals tried to build a fire under the engine to warm it up,” he added.

The truck broke down all the time, but the Hylands had planned for that. It was cheaper to fix it on the road with inexpensive local parts and labor than restoring it before they left Chilliwack (a town near Vancouver, British Columbia), where they live. Local people stopped often to help, even if language was a barrier.