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What Rachel Kushner Can’t Live Without

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair, but the hand sanitizer and the electric toothbrush. We asked novelist Rachel Kushner, whose new book The Mars Room is out now, about the Chanel lipstick, hip-hop album, and book of poetry she can’t live without.

Remember Ferguson? Who among my peers in the literary world was up for supporting the rioters? I wondered too. In any case, what’s happened since has been more abuses, more killings of unarmed citizens, and no reforms to date. Unfortunately no increased diversity on police forces, nor body cameras, nor better training, has made any seeming difference. We need to restructure our society and put resources into communities themselves, an argument Alex Vitale makes very persuasively.

ABN is Z-Ro and his cousin Trae tha Truth, although I guess now they’ve had a falling out? Z-Ro is incredibly underrated and should be way more famous than he is. “Rain” on this album is a killer. It was the soundtrack that played for a whole summer among the lives of some of my interconnected friends, and so it’s weighted with sentiment, nostalgia, and love, even if its message is brutal.

Whether I’m reading about the necessary abolition of the police, or blasting Z-Ro like a typical woman of a certain age, I am never without this lipstick, in number 438 (“Suzanne”), both wearing it, and pocketing it, and that’s the honest-to-God truth.

Come on who doesn’t want to go to Camp Marmalade? I’ll go wherever putto, poet, painter and — little did you know — lounge crooner and ivory tinkler Wayne Koestenbaum wants to take me. But this new poetry collection, ostensibly culled from W.K.’s daily journals, and beautifully bound in a handsome shade of melon (or marmalade), looks excellent with a black outfit and offers great escapes into the cold streams and warm zephyrs of Camp K.

Outliers and American Vanguard Art, which I saw at the National Gallery, and will see again when it arrives at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art this fall, is very emotionally moving, as a survey of American art and its vast history of lesser- and better-known makers, stunningly original artists who suffered, believed, preached, depicted, toiled, and soared into the heights of poetic truths. Curated by Lynne Cooke, the show and catalogue are both exquisite.

The long-awaited English-language debut of Dusty Pink by Jean Jacques-Schuhl, who is something like a combination of Lou Reed and Baudelaire, but more careful, less productive, and still, blessedly, living. Schuhl won the Prix Goncourt, quite deservedly, for Ingrid Caven (you might as well order that too, while you’re at it). This work, published a good 40 years earlier, is even more radical, dazzling, and strange. A cult classic, sure to start a new trend of some kind, a dusting in dusty pink.

This film by Brett Story is a wonder. You can purchase it on iTunes. It’s a real work of art, but the kind of art that can only be made by someone who understands the deep under-structures of carceral society, carceral geography. The film is beautiful, sad, poetic, and funny, especially the scene when she traipses after [Quicken Loans founder] Dan Gilbert’s spokes-huckster, who is eager to showcase Quicken’s carpetbagging of Detroit.

That’s right, I literally cannot live without this J.R. Smith Cavs Jersey, youth-sized for a better fit. I’ve been a J.R. fan ever since some mysterious and very talented joker cut that unforgettable YouTube single, “So Right,” in 2013. And then, against all odds, we were blessed with a remixed update of “So Right” when J.R. was traded (“Don’t need to miss me / I’m not gone / I’m just ballin … with Lebron”). Whether he’s in a hot tub, or on a scooter, changing his shoes, or draining or missing his three point shots, I heart J.R. Smith.

I could not accurately say I follow Ultimate Fighting Championship matches. There is, however, an individual close to me who does obsessively track UFC. I live with that individual, and on occasion, I catch potent glimpses of, say, strawweights Rose Namajunas and Joanna Jedrzejczyk pounding on each other, as they did on April 8 of this year, and as an MMA philistine I rooted for the winner, ex post facto: Thug Rose!

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What Rachel Kushner Can’t Live Without