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The Big Ten

What to watch, read and listen to this month

Illustration Chloé Fleury

1 ACTION PACKED

Inception (starring Leonardo DiCaprio) and Salt (Angelina Jolie) face off this month in a battle of big-budget blockbusters. Salt is a taut espionage thriller about a CIA agent accused of working for the enemy, while Inception is a sci-fi mystery about a man who enters the minds of his victims through their dreams. Both promise to accompany popcorn perfectly. JULY 16 AND 23

2 MAD MEN RETURNS

It’s been a while since we last saw Don Draper and his perfectly tailored suits. He returns this month with more sordid stories of life on Madison Avenue, as AMC’s vaunted drama enters its fourth season. JULY 25

3 THE AIR APPARENT

Based on an animated children’s series called Avatar (but what’s in a name?), M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender is a visually stunning fantasy saga about a young boy who must harness his mystical powers to end a war that threatens the future of earth. A trilogy is already in the works. JULY 2

4 FRESH PRODUCE

For years, web guru Clay Shirky writes in Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age, we’ve squandered our free time watching TV. But the internet is changing that, allowing us to make art (YouTube), share knowledge (Wikipedia) and build a better mousetrap (Linux). That is, unless there’s a new CSI on… OUT NOW

5 COLLECTOR’S EDITION

In her vividly wrought fifth novel, The Cookbook Collector (Random House), author Allegra Goodman explores the relationship between two very different sisters and the struggle to actually live one’s life instead of just thinking about it—to actually cook, rather than merely studying recipes. JULY 6

6 GAGA FOR GAGA

Lady Gaga takes her outrageous outfits and outstanding voice on the road this summer as her spectacular stage show hits arenas all across the country. Don’t forget your pink tights. JULY 1

7 EASY RIDER

For his first exhibit as director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angles, Jeffrey Deitch presents works by actor Dennis Hopper. Painter and filmmaker Julian Schnabel curates the exhibit, which showcases paintings and photographs by the beloved Hollywood rebel. JULY 11

8 MONSTERS OF ROCK

Bob Dylan is in Europe. Robert Plant and his Band of Joy are in the U.S. Both are out to prove that even though their poofs of curly hair have turned gray, they can still kick out the jams. JULY 1 AND 13

9 CROW GOES SOUL

On her seventh studio album, 100 Miles from Memphis, Sheryl Crow lends her smoky voice to a host of soulful songs influenced by her childhood heroes Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin and Al Green. The album also honors her hometown, Kennett, Missouri, which is, naturally, 100 miles from Memphis. JULY 20

Bret Easton Ellis

What’s less than zero plus 25?

By Aaron Gell

10 IN BRET EASTON ELLIS’ best-selling debut novel, Less Than Zero, a wealthy college student named Clay offered up a tale of Beverly Hills teens behaving very, very badly. Twenty-five years later, they’re still at it.

“I really like the idea of revising these characters that I created so long ago,” Ellis says of his sequel, Imperial Bedrooms, out now from Knopf, “and seeing where I can take them now.”

Published in 1985, Less Than Zero turned its author into a star (a charter member, with his friend Jay McInerney, of the “literary brat pack”) and quickly spawned a feature film, all the more heady considering the author was just 21 and still finishing a bachelor’s degree at Bennington College. “Sometimes I think maybe it was too soon,” he admits. “It didn’t seem odd to me then, but in retrospect it’s completely crazy.”

The reception also came as a surprise to Ellis’ publisher, which originally printed just 5,000 copies. “I thought no one beyond my friends would be remotely interested in it,” Ellis says, noting that it dawned on him only much later that he’d somehow tapped into the jaded fantasies of his generation.

Those fantasies have a different weight now than they once did. In the new novel, Clay finds himself at the sort of Hollywood party he frequented years before, watching a glamorous new generation lounging around a sparkling Bel Air pool: “a mosaic of youth,” he writes, “a place you really don’t belong anymore.”

Photographs Courtesy of Frank Ockenfels/AMC (Mad Men), Courtesy of Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc (Salt), Courtesy of Zade Rosenthal (The Last Airbender), Courtesy of Melissa Moseley (Inception) Photographs by Jeff Burton (Ellis), By Barry Brecheisen/Wireimage (Crow), By Gary Miller/Filmmagic (Plant), By Taylor Hill/Filmmagic (Dylan), By Photoshot/Everett Collection (Gaga); Dennis Hopper, Fractured Gorl, 1964, Gelatin Silver Print, Courtesy Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York

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