All tagged Tess Crain

Communing with the Imaginary Friend in Amanda Goldblatt's HARD MOUTH

by Tess Crain

What is the meaning of an imaginary friend? Appearing mainly to children but at times lasting into adulthood, invented companions can signal madness, creativity, both, or neither. Sometimes, they simply serve as company. A writer I know used to have an unreal pal named Zee—“he had a kind of sarcastic jauntiness”—who resembled a wisp of smoke and wore a monocle, like an ephemeral Mr. Peanut: “he was my only real friend for a while.” My roommate had a tiny, bald, blue man who sat on her shoulder and scouted for danger. A college friend once had multiple miniature dragons. In most cases, these familiars erupt from the collision between psyche and environment: reading a fantasy series, watching performance art, loneliness.

Smile, America

by Tess Crain

America prizes smiling. Companies in client-facing industries have been known to circulate “service with a smile” policies, which require workers to feign happiness, if necessary, to please customers. “Hey Philly, got a smile only a brother can love?” “Give Us Your Crooked, Crowded, and Snaggled Teeth.” “Come in for a lifetime supply of confidence.” So asks, begs, and pledges SmileDirectClub, one of several fix-your-face startups with pandemic advertising. I understand. I got braces freshman year of high school and did not smile with my mouth open for two years.

by Tess Crain

Friday night, in Toronto, Slovenian philosopher and analyst Slavoj Žižek will debate Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson on the topic of “Happiness: Capitalism vs. Marxism,” with Stephen Blackwood moderating.

The internet (including Twitter, Toronto Life, the Chronicle, and the Stranger) has a lot to say, and the more you read, the more the debate seems like a title fight or crossover smackdown: it’s the “debate of the century,” a “philoso-fight”; Peterson “wants to throw. The eff. Down”; Žižek will “verbally curbstomp” Peterson—basically, something between Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier III, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Conor McGregor, and Alien vs. Predator. Just with words.

A Single Mind

by Tess Crain

Some of the best novelists in the Americas and Europe have written about chess—yet one of the best chess novels, Chess Story (published in German as Schachnovelle; also known as The Royal Game) by Stefan Zweig, was written by an otherwise less than superlative author.

The Shame of Reading

by Tess Crain

This past year, I set out to read a hundred books. All had to count, more or less, however subjectively, as “literature.” As I had read fifty-two not without effort the previous year, the goal was to read more, not more quickly; and since my schedule had not changed in any major way, doubling this number required I make time… mainly by skipping parties, putting off work, and puttering less. The project was self-conscious but—books being central to my life as a writer—seemed worthwhile.

Time began to register in volumes…

We’re pleased to announce a new monthly feature showcasing four critically minded writers: Zack Graham, Tess Crain, Robb Todd, and Siena Oristaglio. The Epiphanic, so-called, will publish at least one piece each month about an artistic enthusiasm, whether literary, visual, or performative in nature… The intention here is to provide an extended space for critically minded writers to develop their perspectives. If literary culture is to survive well into this new century, the vital role of critics cannot be ignored. Algorithms do not speak with an individual voice; it is the individual voice, finally, or several in conversation, that consecrate literary endeavor. If the perception of value is left to the marketplace alone, well, then, it’s safe to say we all stand to miss a great deal.