In 2012 by Sarah Blackwell and Sarah Mesle, Avidly—an online magazine supported by the Los Angeles Review of Books—specializes in short-form critical essays devoted to thinking and feeling about culture. Avidly Reads is an exciting new series designed to start conversations about culture featuring books that are part memoir, part cultural criticism, each bringing to life the author’s emotional relationship to a cultural artifact or experience. Avidly Reads invites us to explore the emotional resonances of the world in which we live.
In Board Games, writer and critic Eric Thurm digs deep into his own experience as a gamer to explore the emotional and social rules that board games create and reveal, telling a series of stories about a pastime that is also about relationships. Thurm thinks through his ongoing rivalries with his siblings and ponders the ways games both upset and enforce familial and geopolitical hierarchies. Like sitting down at a table for family game night, Board Games is an engaging book of twists and turns, trivia, and nostalgia. Founded
Kathryn Bond Stockton’s Making Out asks: Mid-kiss, do you ever wonder who you are, who you’re kissing, and where it’s leading? It can feel good: supremely luscious, libidinal, friendly, but are we trying to make out something through kissing? For Stockton, making out is a prism through which to look at the cultural and political forces of our world: race, economics, childhood, books, movies. Making Out is Stockton’s memoir about a non-binary childhood before that idea even existed. We think about kissing as we accompany her to the bedroom, to the closet, to the playground, to the movies, and to solitary moments with a book, the ultimate source of escape.
As an avowed “theory head”, Jordan Alexander Stein confronts a contradiction: that the abstract, and often frustration-producing rigors of “theory” created for him and his friends, an identity: an idea of how to be and a way to live your life. Organized around five ways of feeling—silly, stupid, sexy, seething and stuck—Theory travels back to the late nineties to tell a story of coming of age at a particular, resonant moment in the emotional life of American ideas. Although Stein explains what theory is, this is not an introduction to theory. Rather it is an engaging and moving narrative of how ideas are transformed into something more tangible.
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Sarah Mesle, University of Southern California
Sarah Blackwood, Pace University
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