Staff Picks: Flavorwire’s Favorite Cultural Things This Week


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 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.

The Interestings , by Meg Wolitzer

Framed by a few magical summers at an arts camp in the mid-1970s and packed with romance (and lamentation over the lack thereof), Meg Wolitzer’s latest novel is destined to find its way onto every list of “beach reads” you’ll find this year. But the book’s fast pace and captivating plot are just conduits for the author’s deep exploration of lifelong relationships between friends, lovers, and family members — interactions Wolitzer subtly yet deftly observes and dissects, providing penetrating insights on almost every page. –– Judy Berman, Editor-in-chief

“‘A Thousand Braying Asses’: Kim Gordon & Churnalism’s Busy Sewer” by Paul Tucker, The Quietus

This week I was interested to read this piece on The Quietus about the way the music press handled sharing Elle‘s recent profile of Kim Gordon, and specifically, the way pretty much everyone reblogging the piece focused on the fact that the article found Gordon talking about her split from Thurston Moore. I’m not entirely sure that I agree with all this piece’s arguments — clearly, pretty much everyone has been wondering what happened between Moore and Gordon to cause them to part, and it was inevitable that much of the attention on this piece would focus on the fact that it was the first time either party had spoken about it — but it does have some interesting things to say on the ethics and practice of reblogging, and also about the way the content-hungry news cycle works. — Tom Hawking, Music Editor

Lil Bub and Friendz

I’ve been fortunate enough to work for the Tribeca Film Festival this year, and while I’ve gotten to see a slew of great documentaries ( Alias Ruby Blade , Flex Is Kings , Lenny Cooke ), I think my favorite so far is Lil Bub and Friendz, about the Internet-famous cat Lil Bub. I wouldn’t classify myself as a cat person, and I’ve never quite understood the fascination with animals that can just walk away when you’re petting them. But Lil Bub, born the runt of the litter with no teeth, a deformed lower jaw, twisted limbs, and extra toes, is the cutest, gentlest, happiest-looking cat I’ve ever seen. The film talks about her owner, Mike, and how their lives have changed with Lil Bub’s growing fame, incorporating interviews from the owner of Grumpy Cat and the creator of Nyan Cat. It’s a sweet film with a great sense of humor and an excellent soundtrack (to save you the trouble, the song in the trailer is Mort Garson’s “Plantasia“). –– Julia Pugachevsky, Editorial Intern

“Let’s Save Network Television!” by Todd VanDerWerff, The A.V. Club

Plenty of virtual ink has been spilled on the Death of Network Television: how free-falling ratings, online viewing, and top-notch cable programming are rendering the Big Four obsolete. But I’ve read nothing that addresses the problem, and actually cooks up some interesting solutions, as well as Todd VanDerWerff’s recent A.V. Club post “Let’s Save Network Television!” In it, VanDerWerff surveys the damage, assesses the causes, and tells some secrets (“The dirty little secret of cable TV is that networks don’t make their profits (original scripted programming)… the big money is in sitcom reruns and reality shows”). But most admirably, he offers up solutions. “Network TV needs to go back to the way it was in the 1950s,” he writes. “It needs to manage its decline in the same way it was born — with weird experimentation, show formats that are cheap to produce, and more product placement (and in-show ads) than you can shake a stick at.” His analysis is thorough, detailed, and makes a lot of sense. And his argument for bringing variety shows and sketch comedy back into primetime is persuasive indeed. –– Jason Bailey, Film Editor

Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson

If you’re a fiction writer and you’ve ever had a temptation to kill off your main character, there’s a little thrill in watching Atkinson do it repeatedly and in the service of creating a larger cohesive narrative. Her heroine, Ursula Todd, dies in a variety of epic ways after specific decisions and circumstances lead to her demise. She describes life to her therapist as a palimpsest where the pages of one’s story are erased and written over repeatedly — and Atkinson makes Ursula’s story compelling and suspenseful, no matter how many variations of it you read. –– Elizabeth Spiers, Editorial Director

Phoenix/R. Kelly mash-up at Coachella

I can’t stop watching R. Kelly’s surprise guest appearance during Phoenix’s set at Coachella. There’s no reason why “Ignition (Remix)” and “1901” should work together, and they probably only do because of the novelty factor, but the final product is mesmerizing. I’ll probably have it stuck in my head for another week before I’m over it. –– Alison Herman, Editorial Intern

Betty Blue (1986), directed by Jean-Jacque Beineix

Critically acclaimed as one of the best French movies of the ’80s, Betty Blue is a sexy, funny, charming, brutal film about the impossibility of crazy love. Centered on the turbulent love affair between a carefree young woman and a handyman, Betty Blue – which you can stream on Netflix – defies the conventional marriage plot and offers something better in its place: a Heathcliff-and-Cathy-type, gut-wrenching, downright inconvenient romance. Like Cathy, Betty (played by the fantastic Béatrice Dalle) is one of the most difficult, enigmatic characters I’ve encountered (that is, in fiction). And for those into that kind of thing, there are plenty of steamy scenes – it made our list of the “10 Sexiest Foreign Films You Haven’t Seen,” which is reason enough to watch it. –– Chloe Pantazi, Editorial Intern

This week, I have been enjoying the recently released Mac version of Baldur’s Gate, which my gentleman friend has ever-so-gently pressed upon me, it being one of his longtime favorites. I’ve had to make rules about only playing it when the weather is bad. Sometimes I break the rules. –– Emily Temple, Literary Editor.