Author Philip Pullman at his Find Your Daemon exhibition, based on his book trilogy, at London Zoo in 2004. (Photo: MJ Kim/Getty Images)

The book to read

Philip Pullman, La Belle Sauvage: The Book Of Dust Volume One

“It’s with great pleasure that La Belle Sauvage slips effortlessly back into [Philip] Pullman’s richly imagined Brytain. Pullman is perhaps the best fantasy writer alive, and certainly a master of world-building, and his new tale is more broadly fantastical than The Golden Compass and its two follow-ups. This time, it’s [not Lyra but] 11-year-old Malcolm Polstead who goes on an adventure. When the river suddenly overflows and an epic flood spills through the Oxford countryside, he and his canoe are there to save Lyra from drowning—and from the other threats, political and personal, that have the baby in their crosshairs. It’s sure to be devoured by readers young and old alike.”
Read the rest of our review here.

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The comedy special to watch

Patton Oswalt’s Annihilation

“When Patton Oswalt’s wife, true crime writer Michelle McNamara, died unexpectedly in April 2016, the comic was left with a young daughter, a life unthinkably transformed, and a mind that he’d trained for decades to transform pain into comedy. Well, he did that. It’s tempting to call what Oswalt does in the second half of Annihilation cathartic, but his material about finding his wife dead, having to tell his young daughter, simmering in impotent rage at well-meaning platitudes, and coping with a mind already and famously prone to depression and despair, is more affecting because of how carefully honed and tended it is.”
Read the rest of our review here.

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The podcast to listen to

Feminasty, “Courage

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“Kate Harding and Samhita Mukhopadhyay (co-editors of the new Nasty Women essay collection) host Feminasty, a podcast that aims to answer questions about feminism, resistance, and revolution. With notable activists and advocates joining each week, the conversation, however varied, fosters actionable steps for listeners. Last week, for example, after asserting that the late Hugh Hefner was no feminist, the hosts and guest explained the importance of unplugging in the Trump era.”
Read about the rest of the week’s best podcasts here.


The movie to watch

Jane

“[Brett] Morgen has assembled what was clearly a jumble of random shots into something that plays—for a while, anyway—remarkably like what you’d expect from a scripted Goodall biopic, except that it ‘stars’ the actual Jane Goodall. Ostensibly, [Hugo] Van Lawick was in Gombe to document her work with the chimps, and he captured plenty of amazing interactions; those who just want to see a first-rate nature doc won’t be disappointed. But Van Lawick was also in the process of falling in love with Goodall, and you can see that in the almost reverent way that his camera dotes on her every move. Morgen and his editor, Joe Beshenkovsky… deliberately foreground the romantic angle, even as it remains visually implicit. A neat trick, that.”
Read the rest of our review here.

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The album to listen to

Bell Witch, Mirror Reaper

“Even by the standards of funeral doom—metal’s gloomiest, most glacial permutation—Bell Witch is exquisitely depressing. Listening to the Seattle outfit’s protracted dirges is like carrying a coffin uphill in the rain, the albatross of grief turning every step into a struggle. This time around, that grief is personal: Mirror Reaper is the band’s first album since the death of former drummer and vocalist Adrian Guerra, a tribute that unfolds as a single, unbroken, movie-length track. Attention spans will certainly be tested, but surrender to the despair and Bell Witch’s slow-motion eulogy… hits like a blast beat to the heart.”
Read the rest of our review here.

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