Matthew Specktor Reader

Matthew Specktor

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Victor LaValle’s Big Machine

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By Matthew Specktor in New Products on Friday 22 January 2010

People contort all kinds of ways to describe a really original writer, but Big Machine is an amazing piece of work. A true American Gothic ‘horror’ in the vein of Poe, or Melville or James — this book is authentically scary, compulsively strange, and hugely exciting on the sentence level. It’s also funny as hell. A riff about the Washerwoman cult, who rewrite the Bible in bizarre contemporary idiom, is worth the price of admission by itself.

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The writing of John N. Gray

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By Matthew Specktor in New Trends on Friday 23 October 2009

Sometimes pessimism is more encouraging than optimism, because more is true. I’m a huge fan of Straw Dogs, but the English counter-Humanist philosopher’s Heresies is just as bracing: ‘Belief in progress is the Prozac of the thinking classes’. Living in Los Angeles, where a brittle, self-obsessed ‘hopefulness’ is everywhere, I might need this writer (who […]

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The Sting

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By Matthew Specktor in New Film on Wednesday 30 September 2009

More timeless than current’. But I recently finished a long and complicated novel about Hollywood in the 60s, 70s and 80s, and am just now buckling down to write a short nonfiction book about this film, part of a series for Soft Skull Press. A little peremptorily written off as a mere ‘entertainment’, and also […]

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The Cardboard Gods blog

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By Matthew Specktor in Cool Websites on Wednesday 30 September 2009

Whether or not you give a damn about baseball cards, you should read Josh Wilker’s captivating blog, Cardboard Gods. Using vintage Topps imagery — the stagey, shaggy and strange captures of forgotten ballplayers in the 70s — as a launching pad, Wilker takes off on flights about everything from memory to athleticism to middle-aged failure. The guy’s such a great writer it hardly matters. Post after post after post is a winner.

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Lisa Jane Persky

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By Matthew Specktor in New Photography on Monday 24 August 2009

Lisa Jane Persky takes beautiful, beautiful, photographs. To be fair, she also took my book jacket photo, but that doesn’t make her work less amazing. She covers a ton of ground: visit her site to look at vintage, CBGB’s era Debbie Harry, but stay for everything else.

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William Basinski

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By Matthew Specktor in New Music on Friday 21 August 2009

The Disintegration Loops, a series of melty, mutated tape transfers, are pretty staggering [listen to Dip 1.3 below]. But William Basinski’s recent 92982, which seems to compress the murmur of all of Brooklyn, could even be better. ‘Ambient’ doesn’t nearly cover it: there’s a grandness, but never a grandiosity, of scale. It’s meditative without being […]

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Chaldron Optical System for The Thing Quarterly

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By Matthew Specktor in New Products on Tuesday 18 August 2009

The Thing. Not the John Carpenter movie, of course, but the subscription-only art object, curated by a different person each time. Jonathan Lethem’s Chaldron Optical System is the current one, an item of enigmatic and satisfying beauty. Who knows what will be next?

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