CURRENT ISSUE: Commencement 2017

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FROM THE BLOG

An Interview With J.D. Daniels

J.D. Daniels’ writing has provoked a response that only a unique talent could. In both praise and criticism of Daniels’ recently published first collection, The Correspondence, there exists a common tone: a sort of what the hell is this? It’s a confusion that fresh style demands – a confrontation with the sheen of the new. Daniels manages to marry registers that might sound contradictory, but, in his hands, appear natural: bravura and vulnerability, academic erudition and folk wisdom, humor and frankness. And this wealth of material somehow finds the space to rattle around in a tightly bound, rhythmic prose. His essays take the liberty to chase ideas and often become something that they once weren’t in the span of just a sentence. It’s a thrilling agility. To read him can be like watching a brain at work.

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FROM THE BLOG

The Merchant of Chinatown: a Review of ‘Abacus: Small Enough to Jail'

The end of the 2008 financial crisis marked the beginning of an agitated love-hate affair between Hollywood and Wall Street. Movies that satirized, maligned, or celebrated the exploits of the veiled “masters of the universe” became incredibly popular. Hollywood had found its new villain, and the following years saw the release of a string of movies like Margin Call (2011), Too Big to Fail (2011), and The Big Short (2015). Steve James’s new documentary, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, might be described as the anti-Big Short. It refuses to play into the tropes and excesses of its precursors. For one, it makes no attempt to glamorize the work of bankers or bamboozle the viewer into dumb awe with a barrage of inscrutable technical terms—CDS’s, MBS’s, tranches, and the like. Instead, the only source of the fantastic comes from the film’s very premise: Abacus is a profile of the only bank to have been criminally charged with mortgage fraud in the wake of 2008, and the family behind its operations.

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