Best of 2020: Hamilton Leithauser on Charlie Kaufman’s Other Big Project of This Year

It’s a massive novel called Antkind.

Charlie Kaufman’s Antkind got me good this year. The narrator is this hyper-obsessive, hyper-progressive jerk who is desperately afraid of offending any minority group, but repulses nearly every person he meets. He’s also a rage-filled, pretentious, envious, and unsuccessful movie critic who trashes his own daughter’s film on his blog. The neurotic jargon gag worked for the entirety of the novel’s considerable length (though I do wish it had been about 150 pages shorter). That said, Donald Trump screwing an identical cyborg version of himself was very well written. While I was reading Antkind  I also watched Kaufman’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things on Netflix (which is based on a book I have not read), which, like Antkind, metamorphoses into a surreal dream-state in order to reveal the story’s theme, which is actually quite a clever mechanism in both the book and the film. Neither is a “gotcha” gag — they’re more like slow-burning realizations. I recommend the movie as well (although I do think it too could have been trimmed by about 20 percent), as it features fantastic performances by both leads, most notably Jessie Buckley, who I thought was nothing short of amazing. 

Hamilton Leithauser lives with his wife and two baby girls in New York City. He was the singer for rock band the Walkmen from 2000-2014. He recently got social on the internet and now has Twitter, Facebook and a website.