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.

Joan and Peggy’s private chats on Mad Men

I’ve found recent seasons of Mad Men just as frequently frustrating as brilliant, but if there’s one relationship I’ll never tire of, it’s the one between longtime coworkers Joan and Peggy. Sometimes they’re rivals, more often (these days) they’re allies, and when they come together for real talk about their male colleagues, it’s always brilliant. On Sunday’s episode, we were treated to one of the most delicious such moments in Mad Men history. When Peggy complains to Joan that the higher-ups dumped Sad Don Draper in her lap and set her up to fail, Joan replies, “Well, Peggy, I don’t know if this makes you feel any better, but I don’t think they thought about it at all.” Words to live by, as always. —Judy Berman, Editor-in-Chief

Wendy and the Lost Boys: The Uncommon Life of Wendy Wasserstein, Julie Salamon

I’ve had Wendy on the Lost Boys on my shelf for a couple of years not, ever since I bought it used on a whim after seeing it get some praise from friends. I was certainly aware of Wasserstein (I had at least heard of The Heidi Chronicles, for which she won both a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony), but I hadn’t read or seen any of her plays. I don’t know what compelled me to pick the book off the shelf over the weekend, but I’m glad I did: I tore through it, absolutely enthralled with her life, her loves (both romantic and platonic — well, sort of platonic), the secrets she kept despite being a very public New Yorker. It has a devastating ending, but Salamon delivers a real page-turner of a literary biography, which is a tough thing to pull off. I’m ready to read some of Wasserstein’s plays now, and I’m crossing my fingers for some revivals soon. —Tyler Coates, Deputy Editor

Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, Sean Howe

Feeling some summer superhero tent-pole film fatigue? Try Howe’s book, which is a marvel (see?) of research about the history of Marvel Comics; or, how a bunch of weird dudes created some essential American myths with moxie and drive. Goes well with a chaser of Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. —Elisabeth Donnelly, Nonfiction Editor

Locke (dir. Steven Knight)

Steven Knight’s Locke (now playing in limited release) features exactly one on-screen actor, who spends the entire film in the car, on his phone. But this is not a life-and-death one-man-movie in the vein of Buried or 127 Hours. And then again, maybe it is—Ivan Locke’s physical life isn’t in danger, but his emotional life is, and while you wouldn’t think there is suspense and tension to be found in a man making a bunch of phone calls about a concrete pour and an impending birth, they somehow make it play. Much of that is thanks to the flawless work of Tom Hardy in the title role (and let’s face it, if you’re gonna spend 90 minutes just looking at and listening to one actor, it may as well bye Tom Hardy), while writer/director Locke manages to keep the visual interest higher than you might expect (or fear). It’s a gimmick movie, but what a gimmick. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor

Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black

We’ve recommended Orphan Black before, but anyone still spouting their preconceived notions of clones and Canada as dorky needs to shut up and BINGE. All critics, in seeming opposition to the premise of Orphan Black, have merged into one in chorus-like praise of its star, Tatiana Maslany, and here I join the macroorganism. I, too, was a skeptic until a week ago, when I began purchasing the episodes of the first season one-by-one using an iTunes gift certificate; since, I’ve killed both the season and the certificate. Despite action-drama-y acting (mask-like scowls and monotones) from certain supporting cast members, Orphan Black has, for Maslany, built a resumé of characters bulkier than those most movie stars garner in entire careers. Maslany’s — and the show’s — most remarkable achievement is the creation of an army of one and simultaneously many, and the way they make us hunger, consistently, for more time with each. Typically, when watching a show whose every scene relies on one actor, one tires, over time, of that person’s voice, tics, face, etc. But Maslany proves far too chameleonic — devoid of tics outside those she deliberately adopts for each character — for us to even remember that we’ve been watching her the whole time. —Moze Halperin, Editorial Apprentice

The Interestings, Meg Wolitzer

I’m not surprised this book is great — it was highly praised when it came out last year, Meg Wolitzer is a force to be reckoned with, it follows a group of childhood friends throughout decades, it’s mostly set in New York, etc. But what is surprising is how many people have stopped me while reading it to tell me how great it is. In elevators, at the yoga studio, everywhere! I don’t think I’ve been stopped so much reading any other book. “You are going to love that book,” said elevator lady, right after I got it. A couple weeks later, the girl next to me at yoga turned and said, “That is such a great book!” I went back to reading, only to be interrupted again 30 seconds later with, “What’s happening where you are right now?” I’m only halfway through, but going on the advice of the general public: read this book! —Isabella Biedenharn, Editorial Apprentice