Life As We Show It is a dynamic cross-genre collection that uses short stories, essays, and poetry to explore the cinematic experience. In these innovative writings, the movie-viewer relationship is positioned as protagonist, theme and plot, and most importantly, as a new genre in its own right. The texts play with the trope that life imitates art by asking: If movie-watching has become a primary way of experiencing the world, what kind of movies are our lives imitating?
Using different lenses and multiple angles, a diverse group of twenty-five acclaimed writers and thinkers including Lynne Tillman, Rebecca Brown, Wayne Koestenbaum, Stephen Beachy, Robert Gluck, Fanny Howe, David Trinidad, Lidia Yuknavitch, Veronica Gonzalez, Kevin Killian, Myriam Gurba, Abdellah Taïa, and Dodie Bellamy navigate the increasingly fine line between lived experience and representation in contemporary American culture, providing a provocative and thoughtful perspective on the relationship between film and viewer and the experience of viewing life through screen-tinted glasses.
Praise for Life As We Show It:
"An engrossing collection of fiction, memory and observation that shifts the creative prerogative from the producers of cinema to the imaginative life of its consumers, from the site of spectacle to the dreamlife of the spectator, from the writerly to the readerly (and Roland Barthes would surely cheer)."
–Todd Haynes, director of Velvet Goldmine, Far From Heaven, and I'm Not There
"Life As We Show It is a TiVo guide to the soul–whether that takes the form of Rebecca Brown musing on Shane and her father, or Dodie Bellamy fixating on E.T. and her mother; Lynne Tillman narrating the street life out her window like movie plots, or Wayne Koestenbaum recalling Elizabeth Taylor as a personal lesson in gender. The accumulated evidence is indisputable: we are what we watch. This collection of essays offers an early-warning system worth heeding."
–B. Ruby Rich, film critic and scholar, University of California, Santa Cruz
"Reading this book is like going down a rabbit hole of our collective cinematic imagination. These writers share with us in their own unique voices how watching movies can give us primal access to our fantasies, our histories, our fears, ourselves. Like a poem by Frank O'Hara, this collection erases the distinction between what we've seen on the screen and our own most personal memories. By the time you've finished this book, you have entered a fantasy world of the movies where Elizabeth Taylor and Joey Stefano and Ryan Phillipe and many more are all part of one fevered reverie of cinematic identification and desire."
–Ira Sachs, filmmaker (The Delta, Forty Shades of Blue, Married Life)
"These passionate, vibrant essays, fragments and meditations burrow energetically into a rich and underexplored subject–how movies intersect with and interfere with and alter and define and sometimes even become our autobiographies. Staking out its turf in the netherland where film criticism meets personal history, Life As We Show It is by turns poignant and raunchy, heartfelt and creepy, and almost always provocative and inspiring. You'll leave its pages with a long list of movies to watch and rewatch, and a wealth of new ways to look at them."
–Mark Harris, author of Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood
"Even in this age of universal cool, we're just as smitten by the movies as the kids who went to see them fifty, sixty, eighty years ago. Indeed, we may be even deeper into them than people used to be; for, as America disintegrates, and our real world(s) collapse and disappear, the movies, more and more, don't just stand out more vividly among our other memories, but permeate those memories, merge with them, become them; so that it's getting harder to be sure exactly where the movies stop and you begin.
So how, in so bewildering a borderland, does one write truthfully about the movies? In this rapturous anthology, many writers demonstrate the possibilities, making bold forays across generic borders of all kinds. Life As We Show It offers dazzling passages of memoir, drama, poetry, fiction and film history, philosophical suggestion and delirious analysis, and other writings that defy a handy name. Thus this remarkable collection helps us see where both we and the movies are today, and where we're going."
–Mark Crispin Miller, Professor Media, Culture and Communication at NYU and author of Boxed In: The Culture of TV and Seeing Through Movies