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Joyce Carol Oates chronicles the fall of an American family in ‘We Were the Mulvaneys’

Though midterm blues and wet bike seats may plague us this season, these drudgeries simply enhance the appeal of escaping into Joyce Carol Oates’ fictional worlds. Famous for her novels that, like sea-weary gulls, guide the reader off toward gloomy, landlocked locales of the western New York variety, Oates works her descriptive magic yet again…

‘Alita’ features angelic action

Robert Rodriguez was never meant to have this much money. This is a man who thrives on shlock, from his 7000 dollar action masterpiece “El Mariachi,” to the horribly animated thumb-people in “Spy Kids,” to the guns attached to breasts (“Machete Kills”) and penises (“From Dusk ‘Till Dawn”) that mow down hordes of angry vampires/zombies/goons.…

Maggie Nelson shatters categories and defies expectations with new writing

In the hands of Maggie Nelson, the creation of art precipitates the destruction of categories. The MacArthur grant awardee and USC professor visited Stanford on January 28 as the second Lane Lecturer of the academic year. Eavan Boland, director of the Creative Writing Program, introduced Nelson as an author who “challenges orthodoxies” and “displays her…

‘The Breakfast Club’ is an antique analysis of adolescent anguish

Midway through John Hughes’ 1985 film “The Breakfast Club,” high school principal Richard Vernon has had enough. Vernon is tasked with supervising five students in Saturday detention, but one of them, John Bender, is particularly difficult to handle. After John insults Vernon for the umpteenth time, Vernon locks him in a storage closet. Vernon’s spiteful…

Philip Glass’ defamiliarizing lens

How are we to make sense of composer Philip Glass’s musical minimalism? At his most accessible, his works have found their way into movies like “The Truman Show” and “The Hours.” Yet his more conceptually daring  compositions can still appear alienating and intimidating to most audiences. So how should we get to know Glass’s work? Through poetry,…

‘Her Body and Other Parties’ gives shape to female stories

Carmen Maria Machado’s debut collection of short stories, “Her Body and Other Parties,” oscillates between the horrifying and humorous, the fantastical and psychologically troubling, the uncanny and original. All eight stories feature women on the verge of becoming “madwomen in the attic,” challenging genre archetypes and traditional notions of femininity with inspiration from fairy tales,…