Spinning the Record by Robert Hyers
I met writer Robert Hyers at a workshop over six years ago and was charmed and impressed by his story revolving around gay nightlife in a version of New York City that no longer really exists (Madonna may have been involved and she may have been a hallucination). Now in his collection Spinning the Record, published by queer-oriented indie publisher Lethe Press this July, he mines pathos from this scene and from scenes across the river in New Jersey. An emphasis on dialogue and an interest in characters who are the most marginalized among the marginal make the work stand out. “Most came to Limelight, the infamous church turned night club and one of our haunts, for drugs and sex, but I came for Robbie,” the first story begins. “You know this will always be your club. You know this will always be your crowd.” another ends. I’m intent on savoring each story like a memorable night out. — Sarah Seltzer, Deputy Editor
This NBC single-camera comedy flew under the radar when it premiered last year, but by the end of its 11-episode first season, I was hooked. A workplace comedy set in a Walmart-like megastore in St. Louis, Missouri called Cloud 9, Superstore shares a lot of DNA with The Office — an eclectic cast of bored employees with a hapless but harmless boss (played by Mark McKinney); a will-they-won’t-they relationship between two equally disillusioned characters (America Ferrera and Ben Feldman), one of whom is already attached.
Superstore‘s critique of soulless corporate culture became more pointed as the season progressed, and without giving too much away, the season culminates in a long-simmering labor dispute. Despite the show’s colorful palette, bright lighting, and traditional sitcom structure, it has a lot in common with TV’s most popular assessment of the evils of capitalism, Mr. Robot. If you find that show too dark and broody for your taste — but appreciate the diagnosis of contemporary society’s ills — try Superstore. Season 1 is streaming now on Hulu, so there’s plenty of time to catch up before Season 2 premieres on Sept. 22. — Lara Zarum, TV Editor
But What If We’re Wrong by Chuck Klosterman
The last time I used this space to recommend a new book by Mr. Klosterman, I acknowledged that he’s not quite the popular fave he once was, and the two passing years haven’t really softened that. But I maintain an admiration, and frequent enjoyment, of his style and voice, searching and inquisitive in nature, crackling and vernacular in style. His latest tome is mostly an extended thought exercise, based around the idea of how we’ll see our present in the distant future, examining books, television, sports, and other taken-for-granted elements of daily life through a hypothetically historical lens. He doesn’t always hit the mark, and some of his conclusions are sketchy even with the asterisks they’re accompanied by. But it’s still an enjoyable read, and a genuinely thoughtful piece of work. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor
That Egg-Ship in the ‘Arrival’ Trailer
Can you imagine an egg as ominously elegant as the egg picture above? If you’ve seen the first teaser trailer for Arrival, you’ve likely also fallen victim to the ominous elegance of the egg which has allured me into greatly wanting to see a film I know almost nothing about, other than that it involves Amy Adams (who I like), Forest Whitaker (who I like), Jeremy Renner (who I like less), and that they’re all just as enticed by the egg as I am, despite knowing that it’s actually a spacecraft presumably containing alien beings that could inflict any variety of odd alien cruelties (or, who knows, kindnesses!) on them. But seriously, from the vague teaser trailer alone, and from the beautiful, minimalist production design exhibited in said teaser, this film from Sicario director Denis Villeneuve looks like a good egg. (Cue my immediate annihilation by aliens who’ve advanced beyond dad jokes.) — Moze Halperin, Associate Editor