Book Reviews & Terrifying Truths

Sarah McMahon
4 min readNov 15, 2021

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“I can tell the darkest and most terrifying truths about human nature with zero consequences. The consequences exist within the parameters of the scene. And when they call ‘cut,’ I’m free,” Jenn Tullock, Everything Now, page 166.

When I read this little quote, I did what many avid book readers do and underlined the sentences, adding a short note, “Why, though?” Then, I did what many avid book readers swear to never do and dog-eared the page. For some reason, Tullock’s sentiment stood out to me. After finishing the book, I looked over my notes and came back to page 166. What are the darkest and most terrifying truths about human nature, I wondered. And why is a movie set the safest way to explore those truths? I found Rosecrans book by happenstance: I was dating someone new (a relationship that long ago ended) and we decided to read a book simultaneously so we’d have something interesting to talk about. I put it down for a few months before finishing it; this is a book that gets better the deeper you read. Everything Now is about the city-state of Los Angeles, the wildness, the corruption, the dazzle. The gentrification, the wildfires, the droughts, the urban sprawl. The author, Rosecrans Baldwin, is a deeply empathetic writer and I’m not sure a truthful story could be told about L.A. without a deep dose of empathy. Las Angeles is a beautifully insane place. It is the lost and the found; the island of misfit toys and the place dreams go to blossom or wilt or magnificently implode.

“Why, though?” I wrote in the margin on page 166 because I didn’t understand. What are the darkest parts of human nature? What are the terrifying truths that Jen feels able to tell? And what are the consequences of talking about them, both on screen and off? Probably, how we talk about them matters. We could couch the dark, terrifying things in the world of fiction, in a movie or online or through some similarly shape-shifting medium, and that probably feels safe. But what is the consequence of telling a dark and terrifying truth just blatantly and in the open? I can understand why that feels scary, but I don’t understand the consequences. Usually, when truths are told the consequences are more positive than not.

Sarah McMahon

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