Los Angeles Review of Books: This Week


“It is late September and I am standing on a hill in El Quiché, Guatemala, with a shovel in my hand. For the past month, I have been working alongside forensic anthropologists to recover bodies of the missing victims of Central America’s longest, bloodiest civil war. Graduate students like me jump at the chance to do forensic fieldwork in Guatemala. Here, you can see more bodies in a few weeks than in a year back home. Guatemala has so many dead.” Alexa Hagerty, an anthropologist working on issues of human rights and violence, journeys to the mass graves of Guatemala.
“Virtual reality has found its place in the sun. Newspapers now keep tallies of presidential lies, bots drive social media, and the logics of reality TV rule the nation. ‘Reality’ is so contested that its alternatives have become plausible while remaining elusive. Virtual reality is no exception.” William Uricchio delves into three new books on VR: Peter Rubin’s Future PresenceJaron Lanier’s Dawn of the New Everything, and Jeremy Bailenson’s Experience on Demand.
“One of the underlying themes of this book is, what are the limits of empathy? To what extent can we identify or have an empathetic identification with the Other? For one thing, their ideology is so race-based, which means I could never belong there. But I developed a certain affection for the people that deepened as my understanding of the society and how things function deepened.” Ben Shields debriefs Travis Jeppesen about See You Again in Pyongyang, which chronicles the author’s experiences as a tourist in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
On BLARBAndy Fitch speaks with Steven Levitsky about How Democracies Die. Fitch’s conversation with Levitsky’s co-author, Daniel Ziblatt, will appear next Friday.


André van Loon takes his time with Eric Beck Rubin’s “elegant, tragic, and strange” debut novel, School of Velocity.
Lynne Sharon Schwartz is delighted by Laura Esther Wolfson’s collection of personal essays, For Single Mothers Working as Train Conductors.
Karen Brissette finds much to admire in  Araminta Hall’s American debut novel, Our Kind of Cruelty.
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J. Malcolm Garcia tells a story of life with or without parole.
A report from a gay American studying in Beijing.
Robert Harrison talks to Thomas Harrison about Expressionism and the year 1910.
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An interview with Daniel Chabon of Dark Horse Comics about creator-owned comics and what it's like to work as a comics editor. 


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