Outside Reading — Now Leaving Sunnydale edition

As a Former ‘Buffy’ Obsessive, Watching Joss Whedon’s Downfall Feels Crushing — and Inevitable by Caroline Framke

The protracted implosion of Joss Whedon’s reputation and career has been painful to watch for those who found their empowered voice in part through his work, particularly the late-nineties and early-aughts television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I was a fan, too, though admittedly past the age where the show’s feminist thesis could be considered formative. Caroline Framke fits squarely into the proper demo, and she writes with considerable fire about the specific ways that Whedon’s contemptible behavior — now thoroughly documented and corroborated — is an especially nasty betrayal, further compounded by his bumbling rehab tour efforts, notably the recent New York cover story strewn with nasty statements about actors and other collaborators that he inexplicably believes are exonerating. Framke’s article is published by Variety.

Storm Chasers by Sarah Stillman

This article appeared in The New Yorker a couple months back. As usual, I’m way behind on my stack of periodicals (and the new issues just. keep. coming.), so it was new to me this week. The frustration and fury stirred by Sarah Stillman’s reporting is, unfortunately, evergreen. She explains and examines all the ways migrant workers are exploited by the booming business of repairing homes, businesses, and whole cities after cataclysmic events. Wage theft abounds, as do a myriad of other abuses all stemming from the grinding gears of misapplied capitalism. That the workers are often performing clean up for residents who proudly spout their bigotry makes it all the more bleak.

Lincoln in the Bardo (2017) by George Saunders

The first proper novel from revered short story author George Saunders freely tinkers with narrative forms to rescue its bygone tale from the stultifying seriousness of most historical fiction and find the emotions — and human contradictions — burbling beneath the official record. In telling of President Abraham Lincoln’s visit to the cemetery to visit his departed son, Saunders alternates between real and invented fragments of biographical renderings of the time and a percolating dialogue between the specters trapped in a netherworld among the tombstones and mausoleums. I’ll admit to usually getting antsy when reading books built around this sort of dismantling of form, but Lincoln in the Bardo has a undeniable cumulative effect. By the end, it seemed folly to try and tell this story any other way.

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