:: Reviews archive ( click for articles pre-2006)

Passed over to a broken machine published 20/04/2015

To experience Mental Furniture is to be thrown by language. Patterns and recognisable phantom figures do appear as though intentional – dirty rabbit, the mother, water – but their presence is dependent upon a complex chaos of shifting time, and they rely upon this undoing. They punctuate the text like talismans, offering resistance, temporary steadying, recognition even. Then there are sections of fervent articulacy, where anger and fear crystallise and deliver something vicious, something potent. But where does that leave us, the readers?

Emily Beber on Claire Potter‘s Mental Furniture.

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Imagine Kafka as Fat!: a review of Where Have You Been? by Michael Hofmann published 15/04/2015

Where Have You Been?

The defining, screaming, Braille-like quality of Hofmann’s sensibility was an inexhaustible negativism, cocktailed in my estimation as two parts pleasure to one part pain—though, by reviews’ end, pain and pleasure were so entwined as to be indistinguishable. I felt like I had found a mutant literary critic, product of some ghoulish pathological childhood, who had discovered a sinister, backwards cultural secret: the real jouissance lies in the hating. How, I wondered, did he find the space, let alone the stamina, to marshal against books this many complaints?

William Harris reviews Where Have You Been? by Michael Hofmann

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the parody of sovereignty published 10/04/2015

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The author of Headless is largely irrelevant; it is the obvious attempt to conceal her identity which corresponds to, and highlights, the book’s focus on secrecy and surveillance: the fact she is hiding is more important than who she is. Riddled with aliases, meta-fictions, and delusions, Headless struggles to keep itself from caving in on its self-devised rabbit warren of half-truths.

Rosie Clarke on K.D.‘s Headless.

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The Dissociated Man published 03/04/2015

andersbreivik

In The Dark Net, his exploration of the internet’s nastier places, Jamie Bartlett argues that the proliferation of multiple online worlds presents a paradox. At your keyboard there’s a multiverse of opinion and perspective. But it also gives us the opportunity to bury ourselves in a feedback loop. If you have a certain view of the world, there’s numerous fora just for people who think the exact same way: you can chat on Facebook groups and messageboards, read great tracts of articles and essays, and still never be exposed to anyone who disagrees with you, or can challenge your beliefs. ‘Creating our own realities is nothing new,’ Bartlett writes, ‘but now it’s easier than ever to become trapped in echo chambers of our own making.’

Max Dunbar reviews Åsne Seierstad‘s biography of Anders Breivik.

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Alan Moore’s Nemo: River of Ghosts published 01/04/2015

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The Nemo trilogy works like a fast meditation on Kubla Khan’s paradise, a classic hell of first ice and then fire. The infernal translation from the Antarctic’s ‘sunless sea’ turned to ‘ a hot and copper sky’ is caught in the arc of an Ancient Mariner’s tale, the sun a hellish moon like the alien eye of an alligator, ‘small and sunk’ which ends in the slithering horrors of ‘Christabel.’ What Nemo is charting is a journey where the awesome fountain of the centuries erupts and there’s a demon lover wailing something dreadful under a waning moonshine. She’s gone to a sacred universe where all the women are lunar women. It’s a reaffirmation of what happened a long time ago in a dreamtime.

Richard Marshall reviews Moore and O’Neill’s Nemo: River of Ghosts.

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Luxury Complex: Remembering Satan published 30/03/2015

Luxury Complex Cover Art

Writing is a solitary, sometimes lonely business. It does eventually become a collaborative process of sorts, but only at the bitter end, working through final drafts with editors and quibbling over fonts with cover designers. Last Friday was a very different experience for me. It was fun even. For a short while I became involved with a gang of artists.

Simon Crump on Luxury Complex: Remembering Satan.

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Surrogate Transcendence: Terry Eagleton’s Culture and the Death of God published 24/03/2015

Culture and the Death of God

The enormous difficulty of locating a surrogate commensurate with the social, moral and political power of a departed Almighty is the provenance of Terry Eagleton’s bracing intellectual history Culture and the Death of God. Its central argument – that genuine atheism is both difficult and rare – seems at first blush a bit of wishful apologism, the death rattle of a proud but exhausted cultural model. After all, the diminishment of the sacred is no longer merely the overbold conjecture of an intellectual fringe element. And yet, by way of an ironically Darwinian feat of cultural adaptation, He remains alive and well – if, admittedly, much transformed.

Dustin Illingworth reviews Terry Eagleton‘s Culture and the Death of God.

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defamiliarising reality published 16/03/2015

The reader is forced to focus on Indigo as a fiction and as a fabrication – but the effect, perversely, is not to call into doubt the fiction, but rather to call into doubt reality, or, more precisely, the ability to distinguish between what is real and what is fictional. Indigo suggests that it is possible for the Borgesian map of the empire to be so perfect that it covers the whole of the empire, but it goes further.

Timothy Kennett reviews Clemens J. Setz‘s Indigo.

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Retracing the Expanded Field published 14/03/2015

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This volume ‘… revisits a moment in which architecture functioned as a model for the visual arts not because of its monumental or institutional character but as a resource for a series of epistemological and compositional strategies tested in spatial and urban domains – and when the visual arts, in turn, proposed an alternative pattern for architecture that undermined the conventional iconicity and monumentality of buildings…’

Richard Marshall reviews Retracing the Expanded Field.

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Beyond the visible plane published 24/02/2015

Max Blecher - Adventures

Blecher’s book is being compared to those of Kafka and Bruno Schulz, authors whose work is similarly attended by a kind of extratextual loss and impossibility — which would be an unfair comparison if Blecher did not so clearly share their preoccupation with the limits of substance, and even more, their skillfulness in rendering the uncanny into prose.

Colin Torre on Adventures in Immediate Irreality by Max Blecher.

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