The Blog

Beautiful Rot: Emma Cline and the Myth of the Manson Girls

Katlyn Williams

In mid-November, 2017, one of America’s favorite cultural demons passed away from natural causes, a good death for someone accused of so much bad. Headlines that week referred to Charles Manson as a “wild-eyed leader of a murderous crew” (New York Times), a “cult leader and murder-rampage mastermind” (Washington Post), and “one of [the] nation’s most infamous mass killers” (USA Today). The New York Post went with the simple: “Charles Manson is rotting in hell.” These headlines speak to the once-hysterical cultural passion surrounding the Manson Family crimes, a fascination that our films, novels, documentaries, and essays are still unpacking. Prior to his death, interviews show a man who remained strangely compelling, but also pathetic.

Kate Fagan's WHAT MADE MADDY RUN

Elizabeth Boyle

Running is a “spectacular balancing act,” ESPN journalist Kate Fagan writes in What Made Maddy Run. “A runner is always attempting to control everything—time, energy, form, workouts, food intake, hydration.” At the college level, distance athletes often have a team of experts helping them perform this balancing act. As a Big Ten distance runner, for example, I worked often with athletic trainers, sports medicine doctors, nutritionists, strength and conditioning coaches, equipment managers, academic advisors, and compliance officers. Only after I finished my eligibility, though, did I find out our team had access to a mental health professional. Mental health, most athletes learn, is an essential part of the balancing act, but it is also something rarely talked about.    

Robert Long Foreman's AMONG OTHER THINGS

Maggie Anderson

A walking stick, a club, dirty laundry, boxes, a skillet, a sword, a spoon—can such everyday objects tell us secrets or foretell our future? Can they feel pain or act immorally? How much of us can our things hold, and how much of them can we absorb? 

“We are attached to the possession of a thing because we think that if we cease to possess it, it will cease to exist,” wrote the French philosopher Simone Weil. Robert Long Foreman might very well be making a version of Weil’s argument in his book of essays, Among Other Things, in which we quickly learn that a possessed thing can, in fact, contain life—or frequently death.

Interview with Carmen Maria Machado

Katlyn Williams

Carmen Maria Machado is the author of the acclaimed debut collection Her Body and Other Parties, a finalist for the National Book Award. Her stories have appeared in wide-ranging publications, including The New Yorker, Guernica, Granta, Best American Science Fiction and Horror, and VICE. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop, Machado makes real a boundary-breaking assortment of extreme or extra-realist situations, like disappearing women stitched into formal gowns or dead girls and doppelgangers haunting Law & Order: SVU’s Detectives Benson and Stabler. Within these fantastical landscapes, Machado grounds her narrators, and thus her readers, in visceral emotion and human contact.

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