MISTER ACT BY GRAHAM DASELER 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 38
A few months ago, skimming through the pages of The Atlantic Monthly, I happened upon an article by Terrence Rafferty with a rather provocative title, The Decline of the American Actor. This caught my attention. For a few years now, I’d been enthusing to friends about how screen acting (both for the big and little screen) had never been better. My case, in rough form, went like this: back in the nineteen-thirties and forties screen acting, at least for the marquee stars, revolved around playing versions of themselves. Cary Grant was always Cary Grant, with slight deviations from film to film. A few standouts—James Cagney, Bette Davis, Walter Huston—might stretch their artistic limbs a bit more than the rest, but even they tended not to wander too far from their default screen selves. Then along came Marlon Brando and the method actors in the nineteen-fifties and showed the world a whole new type of acting, naturalistic and protean. For years, Brando’s name was shorthand for great acting. Nobody was better. Until, suddenly, a whole bunch of actors were.
RED PARROT FISH BY REBECCA DIMYAN 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 38
While writing this story, I was preoccupied with thoughts of gender, identity, and expectations. And Adrienne Rich poetry.
I am an essayist, fiction writer, food journalist, and adjunct professor. My work has appeared in various online and print publications such as the Ampersand Review , Vox First Person , Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies , and many others. I teach writing at several universities in Connecticut. When I’m not writing or teaching, I’m most likely driving from one school to another.
I have more than 100 stories in print. My new collection of stories, Imagining Women, will be published by Vine Leaves Press next year. I am also the author of three novels and two books of non-fiction. I spent 25 years as a diplomat, and I have degrees from Princeton and Johns Hopkins. robertearle.me
I confess to being considerably older than I once thought I was—though I spend a long time each morning staring at myself in the mirror just trying to start the day. I’m married to a woman who is wiser than I am. I dropped acid as a youth. Next to having a child it was my closest approach to epiphany. I taught high school for decades—which may explain why I’m now tired of explaining things—so I’ll let this story speak for my biography. It’s largely factual. Except I’m not a felon.
This story exists because I felt sad. I felt sad because I’d lost a friend. More accurately, that friend chose to leave me. I took that wellspring of emotion and capitalized on it by writing about it and making it my own. I made my pain work for me.
I’m at a crossroads in life, have been for about 5 years now, just thinking about the future and what it is I want to do, what I want to be. I like to think I know what I want, but honestly I can’t be sure. All I can really hope for is to one day have my life together and to be living on my own terms perhaps as an entertainment lawyer somewhere cool, somewhere really cool, making money to burn.
Born in 2000, I’m a dyed-in-the-wool millennial. Been writing since I was 9 years old and have been published several times online on sites like rocktheboatlondon.com and stkildanews.com. I also operate a blog on gaming, politics, and whatever else I feel like squawking about, thewordlynerd.wordpress.com firstname.lastname@example.org
AUDREY J GORDEN
Saint Clare came from a very dark place that, even still, is hard for me to revisit in my writing. I think that writing about personal issues and struggles is helpful, even necessary, in healing, as you can approach the problem from a completely different perspective. This is one of the reasons I chose not to write this in first-person form. I struggled with the idea of readers, especially family or friends, seeing such a “weak” or exposed version of myself. That is probably my largest obstacle in creative works, not being ashamed or fearful of the reaction to what I say or create. I think there will always be at least a hint of anxiety at the thought of not having control over how people see you, which of course is where the inspiration for this piece came in the first place.
At this point in my life, entering my third year at Columbia College, Chicago, I find it necessary to spend as much time possible exploring what I like and dislike and looking for creative inspiration anywhere possible. I’m always afraid of running out of time, and right now I have a lot of it that I want to make sure I’m taking full advantage of. Too many of my teenage years were spent on frivolous worries and anxieties, and now I’m trying to make up those lost years on what really matters to me.
The evolution of acting has long interested me. In his imperishable monograph on silent cinema, The Parade’s Gone By…, Kevin Brownlow recounts a story about Sarah Bernhardt, the famous nineteenth-century stage actress, appearing on camera for the first time. Bernhardt, when the footage was screened, was shocked to discover how melodramatic she looked: how exaggerated her movements were, how overwrought her emotions. Cinema forced actors to see themselves for the first time, and the history of cinema is the history of an acting arms race wherein each generation of thespians is more talented than the last, Lillian Gish making way for James Cagney making way for Marlon Brando making way for Meryl Streep making way, in turn, for Christian Bale, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. I was, thus, startled when the film critic Terrence Rafferty recently argued that American screen acting has hit a wall. I was immediately prepared to argue the opposite but, at the same time, was uncomfortably persuaded by much of what Rafferty had to say. This article is my response.
My writing on film has been published in The Los Angeles Review of Books, Senses of Cinema, Bright Lights Film Journal, Film International, Moving Arts Film Journal, and Offscreen. I live in Paris where I work as an editor and animator.