January’s Pop Culture Hot List

The concerts, the book, the talk, and the movie you can’t miss this month.

By Fiona McCann December 21, 2015 Published in the January 2016 issue of Portland Monthly

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Image: Neil Krug

The Music

Start the year right with a one-two punch from two of the most interesting bands in town right now. Unknown Mortal Orchestra is back after a killer 2015: an acclaimed new album, numerous late-night-TV appearances, and a world tour with sold-out shows in places as far apart as Portugal and Australia. The maestros of smart synth pop return to Revolution Hall January 30 to remind us of why they’re headed for world domination. Meanwhile, the trio Sama Dams continue their subtle, perseverant dig into our psyches, bringing their haunting prog rock to Mississippi Studios as the support act for LA’s Haunted Summer (January 11).

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The Book

Portland author Jason Gurley spent 14 years on Eleanor, a book he self-published through Amazon in June 2014. Soon thereafter, the e-book version made it into Amazon’s top 50 sellers—on the entire site, that is. No wonder publishers were quick to bite: Crown Publishing snapped it up just months later and is bringing the newly edited book out on January 12. Find out why all those e-book readers are feeling smug about their early Gurley fanhood when he reads at Powell’s (January 14).

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Image: Joni Kabana

The Talk

Local authors Lidia Yuknavitch and Cheryl Strayed (above) join a group of writers convening at Powell’s this month to talk about sex—specifically, sex in books, both theirs and others’. Beyond Lolita: Literary Writers on Sex and Sexuality, a five-city series of events, kicked off in Chicago last November to benefit PEN America’s Writers’ Emergency Fund. (Note: This event has been rescheduled; new date TBD.) Texas-based Sarah Hepola and Iranian American novelist Porochista Khakpour also appear on the Portland (no pun intended) leg (January 11).

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Image: Sony Pictures

The Movie

The 2015 Oscar contenders are announced this month. Our fingers are crossed for Infinitely Polar Bear, the Mark Ruffalo flick that happens to be the true story of the childhood of Portland’s own China Forbes, as written and directed by her sister, Maya Forbes. Get a jump on the buzz via Netflix.

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