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 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.

This American Life #500

The 500th episode of This American Life, unsurprisingly, is wonderful. The format they ultimately arrived at — producers on the show talking about their favorite moments from its run — was a good one, allowing for a bit of creative digging and pulling out tiny bits from not only well-known episodes, but long-forgotten ones. And they found an absolutely perfect conclusion in Julie Snyder replaying the emotional climax of the only episode that still makes her cry. Confession: me too. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman

I’m absolutely obsessed with Adelle Waldman’s debut novel, The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. It’s a pitch-perfect look at the Brooklyn-centered literary world, and especially the corner of it that is overrun with young, straight, white men. But more importantly, Waldman accurately captures the nature of relationships in a way that is nuanced and layered, making this much more than a zeitgeisty novel about the denizens of Brooklyn and their seemingly superficial concerns. Unlike the majority of novels and memoirs written by her cohort, Waldman’s book feels much more universal and relatable to people who don’t have a 917 area code. — Tyler Coates, Deputy Editor

My favorite thing of the week is Adelle Waldman’s new novel, The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. I happen to know Adelle, but even if I didn’t I’m pretty sure I’d have fallen in love with her novel, which follows a young man about Brooklyn who behaves as pretentiously and callously as many young men in Brooklyn do. Money quote, from a female character: “I feel like you want to think that what you’re feeling is really deep, like some seriously profound existential shit. But to me, it looks like the most tired, average thing in the world, the guy who is all interested in a woman until the very moment when it dawns on him that he has her. Wanting only what you can’t have. The affliction of shallow morons everywhere.” — Michelle Dean, Editor-at-Large

The Way, Way Back (dir. Nat Faxon and Jim Rash)

You really can’t go wrong with a summer-themed comedy written and directed by a duo that includes Community‘s Dean Pelton, and whose cast features Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Allison Janney, Maya Rudolph, Rob Corddry, and too many other favorites to mention. But its all-star roster may actually distract from what a delightful film about adolescence this is, its mature and heartbreaking moments preventing it from becoming the kind of saccharine coming-of-age movie that’s already been made dozens of times. Although everything about The Way, Way Back makes it a perfect excuse to spend a few hours in a hyper-air-conditioned theater during the current heatwave, two things made it truly transcendent for me: the keenly observed dialogue and Janney’s against-type performance as a cringe-inducingly needy, flamboyant divorcée who really does mean well. — Judy Berman, Editor-in-Chief

James Brooks’ music-industry rant

This week I choose James Brooks — the musician formerly known as Elite Gymnastics — and his Tumblr treatise about the state of the music industry. Brooks has long been an articulate and perceptive presence on Tumblr, writing frequently about both music and the machinery that surrounds it, but this is perhaps the best thing he’s produced yet. It’s a fascinating insight into how a musician views the industry in 2013, touching on a variety of topics (including sexism, substance abuse and the unpleasantness of Lou Reed’s manager). — Tom Hawking, Music Editor

Comedy Bang! Bang!

After I read Jason Bailey’s interview with Comedy Bang! Bang! host Scott Aukerman, I went home and devoured the first season. GUYS, IT’S SO GOOD. It’s basically a half-hour of comedians just having fun with each other, making it a comedy nerd’s dream come true. It’s also one of the weirdest, most unpredictable parodies I’ve seen, and the jokes go to some really surprising places. Is Comedy Bang! Bang! set in a futuristic wasteland? Is the entire show actually CGI? There are absolutely no rules or limits to the Comedy Bang! Bang! universe, and this season is apparently going to be way more bananas than the first. If you want to learn more about this comedy gem, Jason’s interview is a perfect introduction, and the whole first season is streaming on Netflix. You have no excuses. — Sarah Fonder, Editorial Apprentice

Xul Solar, “B.A.” (1929), gouache and watercolor on paper, 11.8 x 17.7 in (private collection); via Hyperallergic

Xul Solar

I still haven’t had a chance to check out Xul Solar and Jorge Luis Borges: The Art of Friendship at the Americas Society (I have three days left to do it), but I really am in love with Xul Solar’s 1929 painting featured at the top of this Hyperallergic post on the exhibit. — Jason Diamond, Literary Editor