Dec 07, 2023, 06:27AM

Pulp Scruples

There's plenty of good new literature out now, you just have to know where to look.

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I’m waiting for someone to talk about our “culture desert.” That probably won’t happen unless they find a way to guilt-trip “privileged” groups for their access to Barnes & Noble, the Met or Disney+ on behalf of those in “marginalized communities,” who are now the entire cast and crew of the productions to which the “privileged” have access. It’s now impossible to read, listen to, or view all the “culture” produced, even on a specific topic, by any one artist or writer, or from a given genre. Yet one can find people, like SpliceToday’s Russ Smith, complaining about what little there is of interest (aside from fiction).

I don’t agree. There’s a lot of dreck produced by bores, flacks, and people who should find other work. But there’s also a lot of good, well-argued, interesting, funny, and even beautiful material. You have to know where to look. And the search costs are too high for anyone with a demanding job, kids, etc.

In March I hope to be thrilled by Mona of the Manor, Armistead Maupin’s 10th Tales of the City novel, though his San Francisco characters will have relocated to the Cotswalds. Whether it’s Fay Weldon, Christopher Moore, Charlaine Harris or Neil Gaiman, if you loved them once they’re often still writing.

I’d also look to Substack. So many good writers with any independence and anything interesting to say have left the corporate, legacy, Democratic Party media organs and moved there, from Bari Weiss to Ann Coulter, from Peachy Keenan to Michael Shellenberger. I only pay for one of them, Glenn Greenwald, and I don’t even have time to keep up with him.

Then there are so many webzines and online newspapers. Splice Today for example. I tend to peruse the gay news sites for an occasional interesting tidbit, and then Israeli or other foreign newspapers online for a non U.S. perspective. Then there are all the alternative political websites— Bacon’s Rebellion, reason, The Federalist, DailyWire, The Intercept, WOLF.

When it comes to streaming I think Smith is partially correct. There’s a lot of boring and formulaic stuff, now sometimes weighted down by DEI casting (which also sometimes puts new people in what would have once been unexpected roles.) I find that one way to find worthwhile shows on streaming is kind of like reading substacks—look under! For a “cultural oasis,” visit the non-U.S. offerings on Netflix and other streaming platforms, and in particular those from Australia.

It’s not that other foreign countries don’t produce good “television.” France had a great comic series about its movie industry Dix pour cent, available on Netflix as Call Your Agent (now also available in a Bollywood remake). But Australia has had a continual run of hits including Summer Heights High and Ja’mie: Private School Girl (both on Amazon) about a high school wannabee mean girl played by Chris Lilly, the Australian Charles Busch. Netflix just offered the second season of Australia’s Fisk, a Curb Your Enthusiasm-inspired show about a divorced and recently disgraced lawyer played by Kitty Flanagan, who lives in the shadow of her father, a socially prominent judge. But the best of all that I’ve found is Colin from Accounts (Paramount+). It’s a sweet comedy.

Harriet Dyer, who looks a bit like young Meg Ryan, is Ashley, a medical resident from a wealthy family who’s just broken up with a handsome but philandering young doctor. Perhaps the emotional distress of the breakup leads her to flash a breast, as she crosses a street, at Gordon (dad bod sexy Brammall), a co-owner of an artisanal brewery and bar. Distracted by the view, Gordon runs over a lost dog, who $6000 in vet bills later is going to live, though with wheels to permanently replace for locomotion his rear legs, now paralyzed. Strangers Ashley and Gordon become co-parents of this special needs dog, whom they name Colin.

Despite an age difference, the couple are attracted to each other, and keep meeting because of their joint custody of Colin. But by the end of eight episodes they still haven’t consummated. A drunken Ashley has had her hand down Gordon’s pants at her birthday party, and they almost have sex but Gordon can’t go through with it, having had an invasive “old man” procedure that same week with a urologist recommendation that he avoid having an erection for some time.


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