Liza Batkin is a writer and law student in New York. (April 2020)


We Fucked It Up

Louise Erdrich

Future Home of the Living God

by Louise Erdrich
Louise Erdrich’s novels, many of them set on Native American reservations, take seriously Faulkner’s notion that the past is neither dead nor buried nor, even, past. In the words of Erdrich herself, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and the author of more than twenty books, “history …


Pandemic Journal, March 30–April 5

The latest edition in a running series of dispatches by New York Review writers documenting the coronavirus outbreak with updates from around the world, including Danny Lyon in Bernalillo, Andrew McGee in New York, Nicole Rudick in South Orange, Ali Bhutto in Karachi, Jamie Quatro in Chattanooga, Edward Stephens in Athens, Carl Elliott in Auckland, Liza Batkin in Rhinebeck, Tim Flannery in Sydney, Ian Johnson in Beijing and London, and more.

‘Sharp Objects’ and Damaged Women

Amy Adams as Camille Preaker and Eliza Scanlen as Amma Crellin in Jean-Marc Vallée's Sharp Objects, 2018

There is much to recommend Sharp Objects: its visual language is rich and fugal, and rewards close watching. But the dissatisfaction of the show’s conclusion speaks to a larger confusion in the aim of the series. At the conclusion of the series, it turns out that the show’s fixation on disturbed women is instantiated by more characters than just its protagonist, Camille. And whereas the show seems, at its midpoint, to use the murders to access the Camille’s complex and damaged psyche, by the end it seems that our protagonist’s trauma was being used all along simply to lead us to try to solve the murders.

Marching for Our Lives

Young people dressed in bright puffer jackets and pom pom hats were accompanied by older chaperones, some wearing buttons and stickers, and holding signs that conveyed simple messages of urgency: Protect kids, not guns, Books not bullets, and Arms for hugging, not for killing (in the uneven crayon scrawl of a seven-year-old named Henry).

Art That Won’t Stop Talking

Cate Blanchett in Julian Rosefeldt's Manifesto, 2015

Julian Rosefeldt’s installation Manifesto features different characters, each one played by the virtuosic, versatile Cate Blanchett, reciting what Rosefeldt calls “text collages,” which are woven together from different artists’ manifestos under the heading of an artistic movement—Conceptual Art/Minimalism, for instance, or Situationism. The seams between the texts are hard to detect, and the seamlessness suggests something not only about the ways in which ideas and themes reverberate and cycle throughout history, but also about the artifice of historical periodization.