June 10th, 2013 | 8:00am

These were not snapshots, but motion pictures – hence, “movies.” Or rather, they were “talkies” – sound happened too. And through editing there were unions and disunions of movement and sound, the building of story, of character. In the span of seven weeks I watched three.

Things we experience in close proximity in time come to bear on each other, bridge the gaps between them. Persons in close proximity attempt a similar bridging.

The first movie was a drama, imagined from the ground up. The other two were documentaries crafted from ongoing lives. Each brought a unique document of a couple-at-home to the screen in my home.


Photo by Becky Sterns from Flickr Creative Commons
June 7th, 2013 | 12:00pm


When I read the list of companies who owned the now-ruined clothing factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh—New Wave Bottoms, New Wave Style, Ether Tex, Phantom Tec—I thought about my walks in Abu Dhabi, which have been driven from the start by following the bright spool of electric shop names wrapping around each block. It’s not so much the city lights that pull me out there as their measurement of my distance from home, conveyed not in watts but in the degree of mistranslation. On the Los Angles Boutique is a neon image of the Golden Gate Bridge; above a cramped snack stand reads “Chamsely See Coffee Shop (think: Champs Élysées). When TIME Magazine published the list of retailers buying from the collapsed factory and asked “Is there blood on your shirt?” readers suspected the answer might be yes. I wondered not only about my own shirts but also about the ball gowns of Cincinnati Fashion Design on Abu Dhabi’s Airport Road.

Photo by John McNally
June 5th, 2013 | 8:00am

In the summer of 1975, in the southwest Chicago suburb of Burbank, my parents finally became homeowners when they bought a condominium unit in a brand-new development comprised of eight buildings. The cost: $25,000. First, however, we had to break our apartment lease and move out in the middle of the night. I was nine years old, carrying my toys down the stairs to my father’s pick-up at three in the morning while everyone else, our friends and enemies, slept soundly. In every apartment building we’d ever lived, we always had friends and we always had enemies, and we never lived in any one place for longer than two years. Things were finally going to be different.

June 4th, 2013 | 8:00am

In this month's author Q&A, Melody Nixon speaks with Shawn Vestal about childhood, the afterworld, and the 'irrevocable lives' we lead in between. Vestal's short story collection Godforsaken Idaho was published by Little A / New Harvest in April.

Melody Nixon (MN):Your collection is named Godforsaken Idahoand several stories are set in or touch on Northwestern farms. You yourself live in the American West. Has that place shaped your writing?

reviewed by Lisa Alexander
June 3rd, 2013 | 11:00am

F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 The Great Gatsby is a simple story at heart: poor boy meets rich girl and, by dint of superhuman perseverance, transcends his origins only to find out it doesn't matter because her kind will never accept him anyway. This slender novel has become shorthand for the Zeitgeist of the Twenties. Its language is flowery, even hothouse, Fitzgerald's voice lush. Yet, using a detached character as narrator, Fitzgerald knits atmosphere, recurring objects, patterns, and themes into an iconic drama about the ringing failure of the American dream and a contender for The Great American Novel. Australian director Baz Luhrmann’s new adaptation of Gatsby is the third major film version and, though this Gatsby is a fun ride, its emphasis on spectacle muddies Fitzgerald’s masterpiece.