Arts & Culture


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New Haven Noir
Amy Bloom, editor
Akashic Books, $15.95

At first glance, the Elm City, staid, collegiate, and buttoned-down, hardly seems a noir town. But if, as former Yale writing teacher Amy Bloom defines it, the genre is “about corruption, absurdity, anxiety, [and] the nightmare of bureaucracy,” then move over, San Francisco. She’s assembled a terrific cast of short-story writers, including such Yale luminaries as law professor Stephen Carter ’79JD and novelists Michael Cunningham and Chandra Prasad ’97, who use the university and the cityscape to reinforce New Haven’s noir-ish aspirations.


Rodney King
40 Acres & Mule Filmworks/Buffalo 8 Productions; streaming on
Roger Guenveur Smith ’83Dra, directed by Spike Lee

Roger Smith wrote and performed this 52-minute one-man theatrical distillation of the life and impact of 1991 Los Angeles police beating victim Rodney King. It was filmed by Spike Lee at a live performance in New York. The show is remarkable for how Smith uses King’s personal story (including his childhood in Sacramento, his conviction for robbery in 1989, and his death from drowning in 2012) as a framework to explore national issues of community, race relations, brutality, and the justice system. It’s a blend of poetry, speechifying, cosmic omniscient storytelling, and, above all, a musing on human vulnerability and anxiety.


Night Class: A Downtown Memoir
Victor P. Corona ’03
Soft Skull Press, $16.95

NYU sociologist Corona offers a chatty, sarcastic, and wise examination of New York City nightlife. From Andy Warhol, Lady Gaga, and RuPaul to infamous murderer Michael Alig, his tale is rich in detail about what the after-hours quasi seminars “held in clubs, bars, galleries, apartments, stoops, and all-night diners taught me about love, loss, and the real, living possibilities of identity.”


Would Everybody Please Stop? Reflections on Life and Other Bad Ideas
Jenny Allen ’77
Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, $25

In the title essay of this funny and poignant collection, Allen takes on her pet language peeves: let’s do away, she begins, with iteration, meme, surreal, and gravitas. (“It was such a good word, but all the gravitas has gone out of it.”) The other essays, many of which first appeared in the New Yorker, cover topics as disparate as meditation and L. L. Bean, chemotherapy-induced falls and hair loss, and events to which she would not like to be invited.


The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues, and the Coming Dark Age
James Kirchick ’06
Yale University Press, $27.50

“Just five years after winning the Nobel Peace Prize, the European Union, one of the most ambitious political projects in history, is crumbling,” writes journalist and foreign policy analyst Kirchick. In provocative and readable case studies that explore such fissures as Greek debt, Russian aggression, anti-Semitism, the extremist response to the migration crisis, and, of course, Brexit, the author explains why “Europe’s unraveling would be one of America’s worst foreign policy disasters” and how we might avoid the darkness.


Chokehold: Policing Black Men
Paul Butler ’82
The New Press, $26.95

In trying to understand the episodes of police violence against African Americans that have led to protests and riots, commentators and investigators often point to rogue officers. Not so, argues Butler, a former federal prosecutor who now teaches law at Georgetown. “The crisis in law and order in the United States stems from police work itself rather than from individual cops,” he says. The system, he argues, is “broke on purpose.” Butler recommends ending the “chokehold”—a restraint procedure that serves as his metaphor for bad policy—as a necessary transformation in everyone’s best interests.

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