Staff Picks: ‘Another Period,’ Patrick Downes’ ‘Fell of Dark’ and Anne Garréta’s ‘Sphinx’


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.

Another Period

Now that we’ve all binged and thoroughly enjoyed the Wet Hot American Summer prequel, now might be a good time to plug another excellent performance from Michael Ian Black. On Comedy Central’s reality TV/Downton spoof—don’t worry, those elements go together much better than they should—Black plays Peepers, the butler who’s masochistically dedicated to serving the epically self-involved Bellacourt family. Flavorwire’s own Sarah Seltzer gave the series, from Natasha Leggero and Garfunkel and Oates’ Riki Lindhome, a favorable review when it premiered last month, but more than halfway through the first season, it’s worth encouraging those who haven’t hopped on the bandwagon yet to check it out. (Black’s not the only Wet Hot tie-in, either; director David Wain has a small part as Albert, Lindhome’s not-so-deeply closeted husband.) — Alison Herman, Associate Editor

Fell of Dark by Patrick Downes

I am reading Fell of Dark , a sophisticated YA novel by Patrick Downes that is written in the form of two stream-of-consciousness narrations from teenage boys, Erik and Thorn, which will eventually converge. Covering mental illness and violence in unusually poetic prose, Fell of Dark is a tough read but an important one, and I am both looking forward and dreading the ending. — Sarah Seltzer, Editor-at-Large

Sphinx by Anne Garréta (Translated by Emma Ramadan)

I got a lot of reading done while I was on vacation last week, from Edith Wharton to Joan Didion to a novel Flavorwire’s Jonathon Sturgeon called “a Mellvillean masterpiece of the South Seas.” But the book that made the biggest impression on me was Emma Ramadan’s new translation of Anne Garréta’s 1986 French novel Sphinx. It can seem intimidating at first glance, but don’t let the fact that it’s an Oulipean language experiment intimidate you. Sphinx is an almost effortlessly readable, atmospheric love story, like a Marguerite Duras novel starring a pair of genderless paramours who haunt the after-hours clubs and cabarets of Paris. The conceit is so simple and so potent that it’s impossible to get too far without pondering big questions about the role gender plays in the way we think about love in literature — and in life. — Judy Berman, Editor-in-Chief

When the Heart Drowns in Its Own Blood by Philipp Schönthaler (Translated by Amanda DeMarco)

This German-to-English translated story (published as an individual, tiny book by Readux) about a free-diver preparing to set a record and being pampered by a doctor, masseur, and hotel workers, has a resolutely haunting quality, with its abstract insinuations of swimming among secrets that are weighed down by an entire ocean. But I happened to read it this week, right before news of Natalia Molchanova’s disappearance broke, and the book provided an especially uncanny glimpse into the mentality behind the desire to dive so deep that one’s innards must reconfigure themselves. When the Heart Drowns in Its Own Blood‘s meticulous — even ruthless — listing of the physiological transformations a diver undergoes at certain depths provokes the realization that the depths of our own bodies and minds are just as mysterious. As Schönthaler rattles off the changes — “the blood withdraws from the extremities and oxygen is reduced,” “at a depth of a hundred meters, the lungs measure just an eleventh of their original volume” — the reader becomes aware of the inaccessibility of their own, mercurial interiors. — Moze Halperin, Associate Editor

Indie Shuffle’s Artist-Curated Playlists

With all the algorithm-generated playlists supplied by popular streaming services like Spotify, Soundcloud, and the newest Apple Music, there are of course numerous ways of finding new music. But projects like Indie Shuffle’s latest “___ Makes A Playlist” series provide a glint of survival for music hunting that relies on personal taste instead of mathematical formulas. When I look for new, lesser-known music, I usually hit the jackpot when listening to Indie Shuffle’s playlists curated by artists themselves. I’m often curious about what professional musicians choose for their own listening pleasure, especially those that haven’t been too influenced by fame or the overbearing music industry. My favorites include the mixes made by Day Wave and The Drums. — Rebecca Blandon, Editorial Apprentice