Staff Picks: Flavorwire’s Favorite Cultural Things This Week

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Need a great book to read, album to listen to, or TV show to get hooked on? The Flavorwire team is here to help: in this new weekly feature, our editorial staffers each recommend the cultural object or experience they’ve enjoyed the most in the past seven days. Click through for our picks, and tell us what you’ve been loving in the comments.

All That Is by James Salter and The Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St. Aubyn

This week I alternated between reading James Salter’s new novel All That Is and Edward St. Aubyn’s Patrick Melrose Novels, so it’s been several days of very wealthy people having sex and making snide remarks at each other. Needless to say, I’ve been enjoying it. — Emily Temple, Literary Editor

“The Miner’s Daughter” by William Finnegan

A fascinating profile of the ghastly Gina Rinehart, mining magnate and world’s richest woman, from The New Yorker. — Tom Hawking, Music Editor

House of Cards (Netflix)

A compelling 13 episodes tracking the machinations of a powerful politician who mostly wins and occasionally loses, but always drives forward with a consistency that’s admirable even if the character himself is not. — Mark Mangan, Flavorpill Co-founder

Wolf by Tyler, the Creator

It’s not his most groundbreaking effort, but there’s no one else out there with Tyler’s unique brand of insanity. Plus, responding to the album leak by just posting the whole thing on the Odd Future Tumblr was a brilliant move. — Alison Herman, Editorial Intern

Give Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked by James Lasdun

I just finished James Lasdun’s memoir of being stalked by one of his former students. It’s gripping and suspenseful, but there are also beautiful digressions and meditations on everything from Middle Eastern politics to mental illness to the nature of truth. — Elizabeth Spiers, Editorial Director

The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín and directed by Deborah Warner

Never have the words “intimate performance” been more accurate to a theatrical production. There is absolutely no late seating to this one-act, 90-minute show, where the brilliant and brave Fiona Shaw recounts the life of Jesus Christ from the perspective of Mary (but not before you, as an audience member, explore the stage beforehand, to get a sense of her desolate world). Having previously seen her alongside Alan Rickman in BAM’s John Gabriel Borkman a few years back, I believe Fiona Shaw is one of the most tragically underrated actresses out there, and whether you find this play offensive or insightful, her seamless alternation between screaming fits, sarcasm, and haunting moments of serenity as she struggles to relive the trauma of her son’s death is enough to make her monologue one not easily forgotten. — Julia Pugachevsky

The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma and “Apoplexia, Toxic Shock, and Toilet Bowl: Some notes on why I write” by Kate Zambreno

Jansma’s slickly designed debut novel and Zambreno’s hot-pink, hand-sewn zine are very different works of literature, but they share an obsession with writing — and the arguably self-destructive compulsion to devote your life to it. I picked up The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards after our literary editor, Emily Temple, raved about it, and found myself following Jansma’s mysterious charlatan of a narrator around the world on a metafictional quest that’s buoyed — rather than weighed down — by its references. Heroines author Zambreno’s zine, meanwhile, is a 13-page tidal wave of connected thoughts about women writers, anger, and madness, drawing in such diverse cultural figures as Joan Crawford, Valerie Solanas, and David Wojnarowicz. — Judy Berman, Editor-in-chief

The Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique (33 1/3) by Dan LeRoy

I’m not a music writer, but I love good music criticism, so I’ve been reading a lot of books from the 33 1/3 series lately — they’re brief (so I can burn through them pretty quickly and feel like I’m actually a good, responsible reader), they’re cheap (about $9 each for Kindle versions), and they’re fascinating. Over the past couple of months, I’ve read Bill Janovitz’s Exile on Main Street and Christopher R. Weingarten’s examination of It Takes a Nation of Millions, and yesterday I finished up Dan LeRoy’s terrific history and analysis of Paul’s Boutique. Working with sources whose memories of the production are (to put it mildly) fuzzy, he assembles an evocative portrait of the atmosphere that gave rise to the Beasties’ first masterpiece, and does some admirable archaeology in tracing down the dozens of sources and samples that made up Paul’s distinctive musical mosaic. Another great book in an always-great series. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor

Enlightened (HBO)

Sadly, it took HBO’s Enlightened being canceled for me to finally watch the show, and after each episode I sorely lamented the fact. It was great to see an interesting story set around the workplace that wasn’t just another situation comedy. Enlightened has real meat to its bones as a television show that it feels like so much more: it’s affecting, beautifully shot, and thoughtfully written, directed, and acted. Just as I’ve never encountered a show that made me feel and think quite so much, I’ve never met a character like Amy Jellicoe, and I suspect I won’t meet one like her again. As Laura Dern said to Vanity Fair , in a phrase that Jellicoe might have used herself, “those of us who relate to Amy, can keep her alive inside of us forever.” — Chloe Pantazi, Editorial Intern