Christine Smallwood

All articles by this author

The Keeper

The Keeper

There are habits one gives up on breaking

When the worrying got too intense, Dorothy had a choice of palliatives arrayed in pouncing distance of the saggy patient sofa: stress balls, beads, figurines for rubbing and handling, various-size pillows for pounding and embracing, and the eternal tissue box, draped in its hand-knitted elephant-gray cover. The box was always full. The therapist must be keeping watch on the box’s levels. Dorothy respected her attention to detail. Fullness, plenitude, preparedness, a material well of empathy—excellent clinical values all. But where did the therapist hide the half-full boxes? Or did she cram new tissues into the same old box between sessions?

Two Stories

Two Stories

This was definitely not what Ken wanted.

The palm reader, when she arrived, moved in a way that suggested she was not in too much of a hurry to arrive in the future. She was like some piece of human clutter purchased to give the room more character. Ceramic roses were clipped to her earlobes and beneath her black crocheted dress her breasts strained to get away from each other. On her left hand was a diamond the size of a Brussels sprout. She was between 40 and 65 years old. I was the guest of honor and I got to go first. She led me away from the drinks and the stereo and the cheese to the corner under the skylight, and sat me on an egg-shaped orange chair. The palm reader sat herself on a low wooden bench, a Shaker pew that had been bought at auction.

Apichatpong “Joe” Weerasethakul

Apichatpong “Joe” Weerasethakul

If Weerasethakul’s movies are everything I think they are—mysterious, haunting, inventive—in a word, good—why do they make me fall asleep?

These are very slow, irruptively weird movies, where ugly faces break spontaneously into gorgeous, toothy grins and no one screams and runs away when a monkey-man shows up to dinner. Weerasethakul’s films present a challenge to the normal grammar of criticism, which strives to articulate what a work is “about.” What they are “about” is less interesting than what they are about to get into, or turn into.

The Keeper

The Keeper

There are habits one gives up on breaking

When the worrying got too intense, Dorothy had a choice of palliatives arrayed in pouncing distance of the saggy patient sofa: stress balls, beads, figurines for rubbing and handling, various-size pillows for pounding and embracing, and the eternal tissue box, draped in its hand-knitted elephant-gray cover. The box was always full. The therapist must be keeping watch on the box’s levels. Dorothy respected her attention to detail. Fullness, plenitude, preparedness, a material well of empathy—excellent clinical values all. But where did the therapist hide the half-full boxes? Or did she cram new tissues into the same old box between sessions?

Two Stories

Two Stories

This was definitely not what Ken wanted.

The palm reader, when she arrived, moved in a way that suggested she was not in too much of a hurry to arrive in the future. She was like some piece of human clutter purchased to give the room more character. Ceramic roses were clipped to her earlobes and beneath her black crocheted dress her breasts strained to get away from each other. On her left hand was a diamond the size of a Brussels sprout. She was between 40 and 65 years old. I was the guest of honor and I got to go first. She led me away from the drinks and the stereo and the cheese to the corner under the skylight, and sat me on an egg-shaped orange chair. The palm reader sat herself on a low wooden bench, a Shaker pew that had been bought at auction.

Apichatpong “Joe” Weerasethakul

Apichatpong “Joe” Weerasethakul

If Weerasethakul’s movies are everything I think they are—mysterious, haunting, inventive—in a word, good—why do they make me fall asleep?

These are very slow, irruptively weird movies, where ugly faces break spontaneously into gorgeous, toothy grins and no one screams and runs away when a monkey-man shows up to dinner. Weerasethakul’s films present a challenge to the normal grammar of criticism, which strives to articulate what a work is “about.” What they are “about” is less interesting than what they are about to get into, or turn into.