Francine Prose is a Distinguished Visiting Writer at Bard. Her new novel, Mister Monkey, will be published in October. (May 2016)


A Bad Thing in Brooklyn

Tunde Adebimpe, Sebastián Silva, and Kristen Wiig in Silva's Nasty Baby, 2015

Without preaching or making obvious points, Sebastián Silva’s excellent film Nasty Baby, about a gentrifying neighborhood of Brooklyn, reminds us: how many of our daily interactions are shaped by race and class, how well we understand or intuit this fact, and how much about these issues remains unspoken. We feel that a bad thing is happening, as bad things will, and people are doing entirely the wrong things, as people so frequently do.


Quality Lit: She Took Charge

Blanche Knopf at Blake’s Bookshop, London, summer 1946

The Lady with the Borzoi: Blanche Knopf, Literary Tastemaker Extraordinaire

by Laura Claridge
In the opening paragraph of The Lady with the Borzoi, Laura Claridge provides a highly compressed and useful explanation of why one might want to read a biography of Blanche Knopf, who profoundly and permanently influenced the American public’s ideas about, and taste in, literature. In the early years of …

‘Beautiful and Horrible’

‘Window Shopping,’ circa 1930s; photograph by Eudora Welty

Voyage of the Sable Venus and Other Poems

by Robin Coste Lewis
A startling shift in perspective occurs as we read—and remains with us after we have read—the title poem in Robin Coste Lewis’s first collection, Voyage of the Sable Venus and Other Poems, which received the 2015 National Book Award in Poetry. The poem is an incantatory compilation of the names …

Tough & Funny Tales

Aleksandar Hemon, Sarajevo, August 2003

The Making of Zombie Wars

by Aleksandar Hemon
For Joshua Levin, the hero of Aleksandar Hemon’s marvelous comic novel The Making of Zombie Wars, daily life is a source of inspiration, a succession of bruising encounters and near-continuous mortifications that can be mined for the premises of awful films that will never be produced. Scattered throughout the book …

A Talent for the Low & High

Gary Indiana, New York City, 2000

I Can Give You Anything But Love

by Gary Indiana
In an epilogue to I Can Give You Anything But Love, the writer, actor, and artist Gary Indiana explains his decision to avoid the familiar form of the conventional memoir: At some point I began to prune away anything suggesting the sort of “triumph over adversity” theme that gongs through …


The Ballad of Slippin’ Jimmy

Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill in Better Call Saul

The appearance of a sequel, prequel or spinoff often signals an attempt to wring the last bit of juice (or cash) out of a proven success. How unexpected and satisfying, then, that Better Call Saul—which features several characters from the popular AMC series Breaking Bad and which has just completed its second season—should offer us something so entirely new. The new season has proven to be even stronger, funnier and more focused than the first.

The Accidental Beauties

Peter Fischli and David Weiss: Study for Honor, Courage, Confidence (from

If Peter Fischli and David Weiss’s “How to Work Better” offers us upbeat, cheerful, vaguely absurd advice on how best to perform our daily tasks, their work—like much of what is on view at the Guggenheim—could go under the rubric of “how to see better”—more appreciatively, more inquisitively, and with a more open and frank delight in the modest wonders of daily life.

The Passion of the Coens

George Clooney as Baird Whitlock in the Coen brothers' Hail, Caesar!, 2016

More than half a century after the era in which the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar! is set, Hollywood is still making pictures of the sort that the film parodies, but which will presumably lack the irony, the nuance, the humor—and the fun—which the Coen brothers have brought to this latest chapter in their ongoing exploration of how we live, or try to live, in the presence or absence of the divine.

Love Is the Plot

In so many films, especially Hollywood films, love either sets the plot in motion (Bonnie and Clyde meet and rob banks) or provides the punch line: after ignoring the obvious for two hours, the contentious pair finally embrace just as the closing credits roll. But in Carol, Todd Haynes’s film based on Patricia Hightsmith’s novel The Price of Salt, which tells the story of how Carol, a wealthy married woman, meets and then falls in love with a younger woman in 1950s Manhattan, love is the plot.


‘The Brink’

Offhandedly mocking our inadequate, improvisatory foreign policy in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, The Brink is funny, inventive, and fearless in what it has to say about geopolitics.