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Everything Our Editors Loved in January

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Out staffers settled into 2022 with anthologies of essays, stories of a post-pandemic society and a western starring Idris Elba. Here’s everything we couldn’t get enough of this month.

What we read

I have read more books to broaden my understanding of cultures other than my own, and two recent non-fiction books that I recommend are warrior poet, a memoir by American poet Joy Harjo, who is part of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, and Our Women in the Field: Essays by Arab Women Reporting from the Arab World, which includes writing by journalists from or with roots in the Middle East or North Africa. Both are filled with courageous and revealing stories that focus on the plight of independent women who strive to reveal the inner sanctuaries of populations who are still little or unheard in the media, let alone by their own governments. And while there are grim tales of war cover or abuse endured, they are balanced by unique moments of pleasure – like nighttime desert dances – and triumph – like when an imam attends the surrender. her daughter’s college degrees. —Tacha Zemke, reviewer

Last month I read The art of racing in the rain, one of my favorite fictions written by Garth Stein in 2008. This time it hit in a personal way. The story, told from Enzo’s point of view (a pooch in the novel, a golden retriever in the 2019 20th Century Fox movie), is a fun and witty tale of the deep bond between puppy and owner. In Short: Enzo believes that a dog “who is prepared” will reincarnate in his next life as a human. It therefore sets itself the task of learn and learn Goodbecause who wouldn’t want thumbs and a voice? As he follows his man, Denny Swift, a customer service representative at a Seattle BMW dealership and aspiring professional race car driver – from the track to the couch, he experiences the creation of Denny’s family and the sadness that befalls them. Throughout the novel, the pair study the competitors’ tactics on VHS, watching them race in the toughest conditions – speeds of over 200mph on slippery, wet tarmac. Enzo listens to Denny strategizing. And unbeknownst to Denny, Enzo translates this strategy into life wisdom, hoping to evolve. I won’t spoil the ending, but as we prepared to say goodbye to Pele, our family’s 14-year-old golden retriever, last week, Enzo’s words comforted a stark and bitter decision that every dog ​​lover dogs must take. My favorite line: “In racing, they say your car goes where your eyes go… Just another way of saying what you manifest is in front of you. —Patty Hodapp, Acting Digital Director

What we listened to

Elephant in the room, by Mick Jenkins, has been on repeat for me over the past few weeks. Jenkins, a Chicago-raised rapper, burst onto the scene when I was in high school with his debut album, Water. This smoky, poetic and sometimes hard-hitting album was a huge wake-up call for me and my experience with rap music. Fast forward eight years and with a few less commercially successful projects in our feeds, I had largely forgotten how much I loved Mick Jenkins. That was until I heard “Truffles, from his latest album, Elephant in the room. This song is catchy, and it took me back on an all-too-familiar journey through the dark, melodic worlds of Jenkins. His lyricism is direct, culturally relevant and deeply complex all at once. An assortment of emotions that reminds me that Mick Jenkins is pound for pound one of the best rappers alive. Listen to him. —Evan Grainger, Assistant Video Producer

Late last year I picked up Animal Collective’s 2005 album, Feels, on vinyl and it’s been looping ever since. Each track features a whimsical, layered soundscape that makes me feel like I’m driving with the windows down in the golden hour – a welcome transport from the gray of winter. The album is wonderful on first listen, but each subsequent play unlocks a new lyric or sound that I didn’t hear the first time. Animal Collective recently released a new album, Skiffs of time, and comparing the evolution of its sound over 17 years added another dimension to the listening experience. —Daniella Byck, Associate Editor

What we watched

There’s already a ton of talk about station eleven, the ten-part series on HBO based on the 2015 novel by Emily St. John Mandel. I agree with much of what has been said about the series – from discussions of its lush cinematography to praise for the fantastic acting performances – but one point, mentioned by many, stood out to me: station eleven is a rare post-pandemic apocalypse story that is not about despair but about hope. More than two years into our own pandemic, it’s refreshing and uplifting, a stroke of humanity in a world that sometimes seems to be falling apart. —Kelsey Lindsey, Editor-in-Chief

My wife and I love westerns. From variety of spaghetti to modern classics like 3h10 to Yuma, we eat them, especially since so many current movies are set in northern New Mexico, where we live. (Nothing like seeing a canyon where you’ve spent countless hours climbing for a shootout.) So when we saw Idris Elba lead a cast of mostly talented black actors in The more they fall, it was an easy choice to click play. And I’m glad we did: it was a wild ride, unlike any western we’ve seen before. The soundtrack is great (I especially liked that the climactic gunfight was set to a tune by Afrobeat godfather Fela Kuti), the cinematography gorgeous, and the actors strong. It’s not a perfect movie – there are a lot of different elements and they don’t always blend together – but it’s a hoot. If you need an escape to a different world, check it out. —Will Taylor, Equipment Manager

A few weeks ago I finally started watching Grizzlies, a 2018 sports drama directed by Miranda de Pencier. Based on a true story, the film follows Russ Sheppard (Ben Schnetzer), a white “southerner”, who has just accepted a teaching job in Nunavut, a Canadian territory with the highest suicide rate in North America. North, especially among Inuit adolescents. In an attempt to connect with his students, Sheppard starts an after-school lacrosse program. While the film hits on all the right inspirational sports movie feels, it avoids becoming a cliche or white savior by honestly considering Canadian colonialism and honoring lacrosse’s Indigenous origins. Filming on location in Nunavut, over 91 percent of the cast and over 33 percent of the crew are Indigenous, and the results – with standout performances from Paul Nutarariaq, Anna Lambe and the late Emerald MacDonald – are breathtaking. —Isabella Rosario, Associate Editor