FEMINISTS FIGHT BACK
Sarai Walker's novel Dietland, recently adapted into an AMC TV series, touches on women's rights themes that seem more relevant than ever. Plum Kettle ghostwrites advice to girls' magazine readers who ask about cutting, or spending graduation money on breast implants. Meanwhile, a severely overweight Plum starves herself by dieting. A series of odd events leads her to a feminist collective that challenges her ideas about what it will take to live her best life. In the background, national hysteria sets in as a mysterious group known as "Jennifer" starts murdering rapists and threatening individuals and establishments that objectify women, sparking a national discourse that begs the question: Have women just finally had enough? (SAMANTHA WOHLFEIL)
THIS WEEK'S PLAYLIST
Some noteworthy new music arrives online and in stores Sept. 28. To wit:
Cher, Dancing Queen. Cher doing an album comprised of ABBA covers? How has this not happened before now?
Lupe Fiasco, Drogas Wave. The second album of a planned trilogy, consider this the The Empire Strikes Back of hip-hop.
Mudhoney, Digital Garbage. The Seattle heroes' first new set in five years. And there was much rejoicing!
The Rick and Morty Soundtrack. Twenty-six songs of madness from artists including Mazzy Star, Belly and Blonde Redhead. (DAN NAILEN)
THE KING CAN'T STOP LAUGHING
During a live performance of "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" Elvis Presley cannot suppress his guttural, almost maniacal laughter. Many attributed it to drugs or memory loss, but this is a song he's repeatedly struggled to perform. Psychological study reveals more tragic roots. Malcolm Gladwell explores those roots in the third season of his podcast, Revisionist History. Gladwell makes the case, as have scholars, that Elvis' uncontrollable laughter is a Freudian slip, a manifestation of his deep-seeded fear of loneliness and abandonment. Both were major themes in Elvis' life and in this song. (MITCH RYALS)
NOW FEAR THIS
I jumped on Bob Woodward's Fear for insight into the chaos in Trump's Washington, D.C. Woodward has long displayed a knack for getting sources of all stripes, and there's no shortage of shocking scenes and frightening exchanges. What's frustrating, though, for anyone who keeps up on the day-to-day presidential mayhem is that we already know there's been so much more democracy-rattling insanity since Woodward's book ends, roughly six months ago. Fear II: The Frightening can't come fast enough. (DAN NAILEN)
DON'T DROP THIS DEUCE
Last fall when HBO launched its '70s-set exploration of the sex and drug-saturated Times Square, I passed. While The Deuce was created by The Wire's David Simon and author George Pelecanos, it also boasted not one but two James Francos, and that's two more than I typically want. The late-summer TV doldrums, though, led to a binge of season one in time for the recently launched second, and I'm so glad. The sprawling cast of pimps, cops, sex workers and wiseguys is put to great use in stories tackling the evolution of American taste and culture at the time — particularly Maggie Gyllenhaal as a prostitute-turned-porn producer. (DAN NAILEN)