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Amy Nicholson Brings Real Perspective to “Grand Road Trip”

In response to Amy Nicholson’s 978‑word review of Nebraska on L.A. Weekly

By ,

At the opening of Amy Nicholson’s brilliant “Nebraska Review: Alexander Payne Takes a Grand Road Trip Through Real America,” she does something inspired: she tells the story of Richard Lusk, a man who, in real life, did what Bruce Dern’s character does in Alexander Payne’s Nebraska.

This is a masterstroke because several critics have lamented the fact that Payne’s preciousness as a filmmaker means that viewers must suspend disbelief of the premise and just go with it. Lusk’s story rebuts that claim and serves as a central buttress in Nicholson’s cathedral of criticism.

Aspiring scribes and wannabe critics should whip out their notebooks and take notes because Nicholson puts on a clinic here. Snarky without being cynical, profound without being pompous, and loose without being sloppy, her prose is an absolute joy to behold. Her metaphors tractor beam right into your soul and will give you chills (e. g. Payne “strips the Norman Rockwell off [the heartland] like cheap aluminum siding”).

There’s a musicality to it all that just makes everything hum to perfection; she formulates arguments the way a heroin’d up Miles Davis used to blow that horn; with a genius that goes beyond structure and enters the divine.  

Put this at the top of your to-read list now.    

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation