Too soon? As it turns out, not really. Connoisseurs of the monster flick-as-national allegory will recall that Godzilla debuted in Japan a scant nine years after Hiroshima. King Kong premiered less than four years after the 1929 crash rendered Manhattan an Art Deco shantytown destroyed by greed and overrun with simian survival instincts. Given this history, perhaps Cloverfield producer J. J. Abrams should be commended for his restraint in waiting over six years before replicating -- and radicalizing -- 9/11 on film. Or rather, video . Indeed, the allegorical monster here is somewhat incidental; Godzilla may have embodied all the horrors of the nuclear age, but it takes some serious leaps of interpretive faith to suggest that Cloverfield's 60-story cipher of a sea creature has anything to do with terrorism or the like. No, straight metaphor is so last century; with high-quality digital video, Abrams and director Matt Reeves can evince the events of that benighted day -- or at least the televised footage thereof -- through direct aesthetic mimesis. Cloverfield may go down as the first action blockbuster better suited to the small screen than the big; the newly released DVD, sealed in its case by a brown sticker reading "Property of the U.S. Government," brings heft to the premise that we're watching a camcorder tape found in the remains of Central Park. Impossible to believe in a booming multiplex; played without the fancy surround sound on the oldest television you own, it becomes merely implausible, as you admire how rigorously the filmmakers stick to their admittedly ludicrous formal constraints. Perhaps the most delicious moments are when our 20-something protagonist-cinematographers briefly cross paths with the military and police response teams that form the grand-scale, Bay-Bruckheimer disaster pic playing out offscreen. Such elephantine productions were, of course, what people meant six and a half years ago, when they said it all "looked like a movie"; more stripped down and terrifying than ever on DVD, Cloverfield proves we've since learned disaster's less in what we see than what we don't.

April 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.