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Literary Kicks


To Be Trans: Lili Elbe and Me

Saturday, October 1, 2016 09:14 am

(image) (April Rose Schneider has written for Litkicks about novelist Richard Farina and Rush lyricist Neil Peart. This is by far her most personal piece. Thanks, April. —Marc) "Whom the Gods would destroy they first make mad." — Euripidies, from "Prometheus" Einar Wegener—Europe's best known transgender person in the early 20th century—lived a satisfying and perhaps gratifying male life for a very short time. He painted and partied, drank and danced and sailed on the clear calm water of life for his first twenty years. If he caught a glimpse of...

Sympathizers and Innocents: New Novels by Viet Thanh Nguyen and Dana Spiotta

Sunday, July 17, 2016 07:52 pm

(image) I recently enjoyed two new novels, The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen and Innocents and Others by Dana Spiotta, that left me thinking about the shimmering surfaces of everyday life, and the interwoven meshes of secrecy and guilt that ripple beneath. One novel is about a clever and bookish Vietnamese refugee college student in California who is really a Communist spy. The other is about a lifelong friendship between two filmmakers, one of them more commercial than the other. I recommend both for anyone in search of existential summer...

Phases of Change

Monday, May 9, 2016 08:46 pm

(image) A few weeks ago I showed up for a cool poetry reading at a dive called Gunther's in Northport, Long Island, a bar famous for being Jack Kerouac's favorite drinking spot when he'd lived nearby. This reading was significant to me because something was happening for the first time. When I was called to the mic, I was introduced as Marc Eliot Stein. Marc Eliot Stein? Who the hell is that? It still jars me, three months after announcing my decision to dispose of the pseudonym I had used for over 20 years, to remember what name I'm going by...

Revolt on Mount Parnassus: An Allegory in Copy/Paste

Tuesday, April 19, 2016 08:31 am

(image) Introduction PARIS - AUGUST, 1870 - An incorrigible, horrible genius. A fifteen year-old! disembarks at Rue de Maubeuge. A concussion of uncombed hair infested with a plague of lice. Soiled clothing. A homicidal cupid with the enormous hands of a strangler. A smarmy smirk, perfect skin, a beautiful terror with cherub lips and a pernicious grin. Paris is about to fall and the air is crisp with revolt like the pit of the stomach before a first sexual encounter. Crackling on the skin is the charged abstraction of rebirth that floods the...

Beverly, Clearly

Monday, April 11, 2016 09:39 pm

(image) For a long time I thought her name was Beverly Clearly. That's because she wrote so clearly. For real: as a kid I would look at the covers of these wonderfully readable books, and "Beverly Clearly" was the author name I saw. It's rare that I have a chance to celebrate a favorite author who is turning 100 years old. A couple of months ago I wrote an R.I.P. for David Bowie, who died way too young, in which I named his five most genius songs. Today, I'm going to going to list seven Beverly Cleary genius moments to celebrate her 100th...