B.D. McClay


B. D. McClay is the associate editor of the Hedgehog Review.

In Defense of Liberal Arts

 

Poor liberal arts. People don’t esteem the term—or its cousin, “liberal education”—very much these days, it seems. Evaluating the success or failure of an education now requires measurable outcomes, such as test scores or post-college employment. Learning is, more and more, about return on investment. K-12 education is increasingly focused on testing. In everyday conversation, […]

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I Love to Hate Leo Tolstoy

 

The Kreutzer Sonata Variations: Lev Tolstoy’s Novella and CounterstoriesBy Sofiya Tolstaya and Lev Lvovich Tolstoy(Yale, 384 pages, $40) A month or so ago, This American Life host Ira Glass landed in hot water for casually tweeting “Shakespeare sucks.” Well, Glass deserved it; still, the backlash provoked a kind of counter-reaction in me. There’s more to […]

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With ‘The Cosmopolitans,’ Whit Stillman Has Evolved

 

Whit Stillman’s reputations rests upon a small body of work. After The Last Days of Disco (1998), he seemed, for a time, to be done. Twelve years later when he released Damsels in Distress, his fourth film, its reception was somewhat mixed; Damsels in Distress was cute and candy-colored, not much like the more muted […]

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Otto Confronts Slava

 

Slava Gelman emigrated to America from the Soviet Union when he was only a child. Though the rest of his family lives in South Brooklyn, he barely sees them; he lives alone in an almost empty apartment on the Upper East Side, where he desperately attempts to strip himself of his Russian Jewish roots. He […]

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‘The Knick’ is Beautiful, Gory, and Not Very Good

 

Is there anything better than watching television about the past, when people were wrong about everything? The past, with its glamorous clothes, copious smoking, and easily judged mistakes? If you said, “Nothing, except perhaps television set in the past full of gory surgery scenes,” well, you’re in luck. Cinemax’s new show, The Knick (directed by […]

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‘Arts & Entertainments’ Is Accomplished, Frustrating

 

Arts & EntertainmentsBy Christopher Beha(Ecco, 288 pages, $14.99) Eddie Hartley is a failure. His acting career barely extends beyond a handful of bit parts in Law & Order. He’s a high school drama teacher, but the best he can muster toward his students is apathy. He and his wife Susan have been trying (unsuccessfully) to […]

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Why Does Anyone Care About Vampires?

 

Are vampires scary? Though by all rights they should be, they’ve never really frightened me. Or even been that compelling, really: I read Dracula once and stopped there. Pop culture, on the other hand, loves vampires. But most of its vampires aren’t frightening either. From The Vampire Chronicles to Buffy to True Blood to Twilight, vampires […]

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‘Orange Is the New Black’ Proves TV is Being Written for Binge Watchers

 

There’s a wonderful subplot in the new season of Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black that follows Rosa (Barbara Rosenblat), a cranky, elderly cancer patient. A bit player in season one, she remains a marginal character with whom the show nonetheless elects to spend time. We follow her to her chemotherapy. We learn the story of […]

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What ‘The Goldfinch’ and Commencement Speeches Have In Common

 

If you were following the great Commencement Speaker Bloodbath of 2014, you might have noticed that there were two stories happening. Here’s story number one: “hyper-sensitive college students suppress freedom of speech.” This was the story most people accepted at the time. The other story went like this: “college administrators and commencement speakers prove unable […]

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The Good Wife: Confidence and Paranoia

 

May marked the end of the fifth season of The Good Wife, the CBS legal procedural/political drama/soap opera. Produced by Ridley Scott, The Good Wife is the kind of show that tends to be recommended as “the best show you’re not watching,” because it is, well, good. And while somebody is certainly watching it (me; […]

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