End of the World House by Adrienne Celt | LA Times

Harold Ramis’ 1993 comedy Groundhog Day didn’t invent the time-loop narrative, but it established the popular template for such stories: The cause is never identified; the protagonist must make different choices (usually to become a better person) to stop the loop; there is almost always a period in which the characters exploit their position to their advantage; frequently, there’s a love story. Although these parameters are rarely broken, any story taking on the Groundhog Day concept should add something to the formula. The most successful versions pair the concept with something fresh, as in the sci-fi action film Edge of Tomorrow or the horror flick Happy Death Day. One popular additive in recent iterations such as Netflix’s Russian Dolls or Hulu’s Palm Springs is the inclusion of a second victim. Continue reading…

Something to Do with Paying Attention by David Foster Wallace | LA Times

In 1996, shortly after the publication of Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace took courses at Harvard University on accounting and federal tax law. He had an idea for a new novel: an exploration of boredom set in an IRS office, which to his credit does seem like the most boring place imaginable. Ever the overeager researcher, Wallace became as fluent in the tax code as any agent. By the time the resulting work was published in 2011, unfinished, under the title The Pale King, Wallace had been dead for three years. Continue reading…

The Women I Love by Francesco Pacifico | L.A. Times

The protagonist of Francesco Pacifico’s The Women I Love is writing a novel, and he has this to say about his literary project: “I’m recalling this period in my life to see if I’m capable of describing the women I love or have loved without turning them into caricatures, into saviors or sirens, into wives, mothers, or whores. I’ve grown tired of the comedy of the clumsy man who always makes the wrong move.” Later, he wonders, “what’s left for a man to write when he’s writing about women?” Continue reading…

The King of Infinite Space by Lyndsay Faye | L.A. Times

Lyndsay Faye plays a kind of literary jazz. The author likes to riff on the standards, putting her own stamp on them as she jams. Her previous novels include inventive takes on Sherlock Holmes (“Dust and Shadow”) and “Jane Eyre” (“Jane Steele”). Her Timothy Wilde detective series and her novel “The Paragon Hotel” infuse a contemporary sensibility into gritty, evocative historical fiction. Continue reading…

The Last Man Takes LSD by Mitchell Dean & Daniel Zamora | L.A. Times

In 1978 and 1979, the French philosopher Michel Foucault gave a series of lectures on neoliberalism, the set of economic doctrines focused on free market enterprise, limited government and individual autonomy. Foucault wasn’t interested in the nitty-gritty of actual governing. “I have not studied and do not want to study,” he announced in the first lecture, “the development of real governmental practice.” Rather, he was interested in “the art of government.”