Literary Quartet

by Jen Calleja

We’re in a labyrinth of ladders, arcing and curling around one another, following others’ routes, occasionally being given a hand over treacherous rungs. Some ladders lead to dead ends, others to platforms from where we can shout down encouragement, or ignore all beneath. No one knows how anyone gets up there – the routes are not well lit.

Traum

In the video for her song Criminal, I watch Fiona Apple’s body and wait for it to tell me how I should feel about her, or towards her, and in this video, the messages are mixed. Her body says that something is wrong, but what she sings is more complicated and as the way she is filmed renders her as a thing, I come back to thinking that her body, in its communicating that something is wrong, is where the attraction lies.

An Incomplete Taxonomy of Sexually Desperate Women in Pop

The Oilfield Allegorist: Dorothy Ellis — Drill Daddy Drill (1952) Thirty-six years before Dallas brought us the oil-centric Ewing family, there was Drill Daddy Drill, an ode to oil extraction that’s really an ode to sex, and is also not to be confused with the (Republican, therefore deeply unsexy) slogan Drill Baby Drill!

Britney Spears, Pop's Final Girl

No piece of famous-girl gossip has ever surprised me less than learning that the night before her Vegas wedding to Jason Alexander, Britney Spears watched The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

The Garden of Celestial Delights

The Galactic Expressway Resort had been in development for just short of a decade when they celebrated their soft launch "Leave to Remain" on that fateful Friday of June 24th, 2016. The intention had been to establish a viable competitor for Dick Pickle’s Coitus Galactic, a flight service offering unencumbered views of our Earth to its ordinary citizens.

The Volcano Lover

Everybody does it. Watch from the bottom of the escalator at Naples’ Toledo metro station and you see heads stop turning from side to side like loose bottle caps and pivot upwards. They’re looking at a portal into another dimension, or more precisely, station architect Oscar Tusquets Blanca’s perfect cone-shaped tunnel cut deep into the ceiling ...

Hunting Hamburg's Counterculture

The train was to leave Berlin appallingly early. Having confused the German words for Saturday and Sunday in sleepy delirium, I missed the bus to the station. Sitting against a wall on the deserted street corner, my skin blooming with hives, I breathed deeply, clutching the fingers of my left hand in time with each round.

Sifting through Beirut's Stifling Past

If you have the patience, you can find almost anything on the market floor at Souk al-Ahad. Hiding beneath pink plastic pianos, among stuffed Hello Kitties, giant soup ladles and mountains of miscellaneous clothing, fading lives are scattered like dice.

Mughal Selfies

On the east side of Humayun’s tomb, a young European woman in leggings and a black sports t-shirt positions herself so that she is perfectly framed by the 16th century arch behind her. She fixes her hair, lies down on the ground and pushes up into the yoga pose commonly known as the Bridge.

Get Your Gun, Girl

Anne Carson once wrote that in order to survive, you needed an edge; in this age, I suspect that a blade might be better. Reading the year’s new clatch of stories about the “real” Gone Girl ... I found myself wishing that men who turned out to be killers and mass manipulators were rare enough that a story about the “real” Gone Guy would catch on.