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 recommend the cultural object or experience they’ve enjoyed most in the past seven days. Click through for our picks, and tell us what you’ve been loving in the comments.

Bryce Dessner’s Aheym

Bryce Dessner might be known more for his work with The National, but I’ve had Aheym, an album composed by him and performed by the Kronos Quartet, on repeat pretty much all week. I’d call it essential working music. —Jason Diamond, Literary Editor

William Gibson’s Neuromancer

This week I started reading William Gibson’s Neuromancer, which has been on my to-read list for years but has never quite worked its way to the top. I finally started on it because of the Gibson references on the new EMA album, and I’m glad I did — it’s a thoroughly entertaining romp through a hard-bitten noir sci-fi world. I’m only a couple of chapters in, but if it’s been on your list for a while too, it’s definitely worth picking up. —Tom Hawking, Music Editor

Shearwater’s Fellow Travelers

Shearwater is a band of pomp and bombast, singing beautiful songs that are—more often than not—about birds and the extremes of the natural world. I love the grandeur of frontman Jonathan Meiburg’s voice, and on their new album, “Fellow Travelers,” he leads the band through a series of covers of other bands that they love and have toured with. The band covers bands like St. Vincent, Xiu Xiu, and Wye Oak, and what can be sharp and spiky songs in the original singer’s hands turns into something wild and unknown through Meiburg’s band. Best enjoyed on headphones, ideally winding up the Hudson on the Amtrak, looking at the river and dreaming about the country. —Elisabeth Donnelly, Nonfiction Editor

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

I’m in the midst of re-reading The Age of Innocence, and it’s a doozy. I’ve always been a fan of the book, but there’s something about reading it as you’re gaining experience as a “real” adult that makes it hit so much harder than when you’re a star-crossed teen or college kid. Rather then being frustrated by Newland Archer — as I was in my first go-rounds with the book — there’s a growing understanding and empathy for this man who is continuously hemmed in by the realities of his life. Frankly, this book should be shelved in the horror section of all local book sellers, because it’s as thoughtful and romantic as it is utterly terrifying. Seriously, my stomach is in knots of anxiety the whole time; it’s probably giving me ulcers — but it is truly fantastic and worth the re-read (or the first-time read)! —Lillian Ruiz, Social Media Director

Young & Beautiful (dir. Francois Ozon)

Over the weekend, I caught a screening of the latest film by one of my favorite directors at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s excellent yearly Rendez-Vous With French Cinema series. While perhaps a bit slight compared with Ozon’s best work — Swimming Pool, Sitcom, its predecessor In the House — its close-up portrait of a teenage girl who takes up prostitution as an after-school activity is keenly observed and beautifully acted. Young & Beautiful doesn’t have a US release date yet, but the word is that Sundance Selects will bring it to theaters sometime this year. —Judy Berman, Editor-in-Chief

Looking Season Finale

Up until a few weeks ago, my weekly devotion to Looking had been almost entirely superficial — I give what I get, and since the show seemed determined to offer little more than rolling fog over San Francisco’s lukewarm horizons and hot main characters with lukewarm intrigue, I took it as slightly higher-brow activity than watching porn (and thus a matter of personal improvement). How else could a show that seems decidedly undramatic, unphilosophical and unfunny — but totally pretty — be absorbed? At the beginning of the season, all relationships were either on the rocks or nascent, but thankfully, by the end of the season, the show had chosen its “thing”: it began to form an identity as a show that very intricately explores the nature of attraction and devotion. The build was slow, but by the end of the finale, I found myself surprised by how heartbroken I was by certain characters’ decisions. I was likewise impressed by the show’s probing of the sensitivities of cross-cultural and cross-class partnership, and how willing it was to sacrifice the cute-boi image of its protagonist, Joanthan Groff’s Patrick, by making him an intolerably repressive, mildly bigoted WASP. It took a while, but Looking finally proved to be more than a purveyor of boutique gay lifestyles. —Moze Halperin, Editorial Apprentice