Mr. Ratchett Is Dead Again

Mr. Ratchett Is Dead Again WHY DID SIDNEY LUMET in 1974 and Kenneth Branagh in 2017 go to the trouble of assembling star-studded casts to revisit Agatha Christie’s ingenious but very creaky novel of the 1930s, Murder on the Orient Express? One try was understandable. After all, the novel draws on at least two compelling […]

The Generic Spectacular

The Generic Spectacular WHEN THE BELIEVER approached Jim Shepard during the early Bush II years, they were hoping he’d agree to write a film column. Shepard gave them a film column: an extended consideration of the peculiarly American movie formulas for onscreen amnesia and perpetual innocence. Shepard can seem like a bleak writer. In his five story […]

On the Brink

On the Brink SINCE DONALD TRUMP’S ELECTION, many have become used to the idea that this is an era of existential threats to the United States. While this fear is overblown to some degree, and the hyperventilating is becoming too commonplace, these instincts are correct in one real sense: as president, Trump has the authority […]

The Hasidic Question

The Hasidic Question THE BA’AL SHEM TOV, a charismatic folk healer, exorcist, clairvoyant, teacher, and mystical ecstatic who was said to have spoken to Satan and the Messiah-in-waiting — not to mention having merged directly with God — is often identified as the founder of Hasidism. Born somewhere in the Carpathian Mountains, on the seam […]

Thinking Weirdly with China Miéville

Thinking Weirdly with China Miéville No matter how commodified and domesticated the fantastic in its various forms might be, we need fantasy to think the world, and to change it. — China Miéville ¤ CHINA MIÉVILLE IS one of the most inventive writers of contemporary science fiction and fantasy literature. Since the publication of King […]