:: Reviews

Men and Women Who Will Not Grow Up published 25/07/2017

The novel’s topography is unmistakably London, though it’s difficult to pin down. The Bacchus Bar where the bohemian characters gather is reminiscent of Soho; the nearby school less so. There are echoes of Peter Ackroyd’s theory that holds the place itself, with its demands for sacrificial offerings, responsible for the crimes it attracts. Kersh, however, puts emphasis on ‘a certain midnight’ rather than the place, estimating the balance of probabilities thus: ‘God, as a gentleman, tries to think well of the watchful enemy, but Evil knows all the tricks.’

Anna Aslanyan reviews the reissue of Gerald Kersh‘s Prelude to a Certain Midnight.

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Male Violence, God and the G20: Abraumhalde by Elfriede Jelinek published 20/07/2017


What seasoned Swiss director Simone Blattner did with Abraumhalde in the Kammerspiele Bonn is particularly interesting. Blattner cut up the usual monologue into six voices: five men and one woman. With a remarkably clear eye, Blattner made explicit what is sometimes only implicit in Jelinek.

Marcel Inhoff reviews a performance of Abraumhalde by Elfriede Jelinek.

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The Wandering Path: a Review of Seed by Joanna Walsh published 18/07/2017

Engagement with the natural world is a key part of Seed, which is at once slightly odd and highly relevant. We engage with raw nature less than we used to, especially those of us who grew up before the internet. Also, this is a digital book, disembodied, not an object made of natural materials that can be touched, smelled, and experienced directly through the senses. So while there seems to be a certain nostalgia for the pre-digital world, it is paradoxically expressed in a shiny, postlapsarian, Google-labbed form.

Julian Hanna reviews Seed by Joanna Walsh.

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Vanguard Collectibles: Isabel Waidner’s Gaudy Bauble published 13/07/2017

gaudy bauble review

Gaudy Bauble is what happens when the margins/marginalised suddenly decide to chew on the centre by means of an avant-garde smouldering with differences in language and sexuality – the uselessness and toxicity of binaries as mechanisms of definition are, once again, gleefully exposed.

MH reviews Gaudy Bauble by Isabel Waidner.

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‘This is the third millennium, everything is permitted’ published 11/07/2017

What Despentes means for me will not be the same as what she means for other readers – an obvious point, but the potential gap between the experiences of readers is so large here that it needs to be highlighted. Yet the back of my proof copy of Vernon Subutex I displays reviews and taglines suggesting a universal audience instead: ‘Who is Vernon Subutex? […] a mirror who reflects us all’.

Oscar Farley reviews Virginie Despentes‘s Vernon Subutex I.

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The Sorcerer’s Apprentice published 08/07/2017

The story either gives grief-stricken trace lines an irrevocable source of resistance, or else anomalous forms of persistent humiliation. It works to estimate the situation. It’s a habit of secrecy being brokered over centuries. Narratives of intense corporeal excavations take place in night ears but are experienced in daylight eyes. Deranged adults and wounded children perform annulment stories in silence. The insane interrogative research of intense pressure seeks the other side of suffering, where the suffering ends not because it has been expelled or exonerated but rather because it has been liberated from its opposite.

Richard Marshall reviews Jack Zipes’ book The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

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The Complicit Reader: N. J. Campbell’s Found Audio published 05/07/2017

My reader’s copy of Found Audio has hot sauce splattered on its edgings. It’s been inked at the corners. Its cover is waterlogged. White innards poke through the cracked casing of its spine. These are the marks of having grappled with a novel, N. J. Campbell’s first, that stretches language, remakes structure, plots boldly, all while having its own peculiar kind of fun. What sets Campbell’s novel apart from most of its postmodern counterparts, though, is the scope of its metafictional component, which goes beyond the author’s merely entering the world of the book and interacting with its characters. Here, the reader is made just as integral to the story as the author himself. In doing so, Campbell casts new light not only on what makes something fiction, but on the role we as readers must play in it.

M. K. Rainey reviews Found Audio by N. J. Campbell.

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The Language Activism of ‘The Aleksandr Technique’ by Gareth Twose published 29/06/2017

The Language Activism of Gareth Twose’s ‘The Aleksandr Technique’

‘The Aleksandr Technique’ was inspired by email updates “written” by a toy meerkat during its shipping to the poet’s home. The meerkat in question, named Aleksandr Orlov, is a recurring persona deployed across media platforms by the car insurance company comparethemarket.com. As one of the company’s marketing tactics, a toy meerkat is sent to every customer that buys car insurance online. In response, Twose’s sequence cannibalises the affective appeal of the company’s gimmick – its ‘Aleksandr Technique’.

Dylan Williams on ‘The Aleksandr Technique’, from Sven Types of Terrorism by Gareth Twose.

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Trial of ____/: a review of Valerie Hsiung’s EFG published 28/06/2017

Review of EFG by Valerie Hsiung

EFG is divided into three sections, 1) Naturacide, 2) exchange following and gene flow, and 3) J’etais Enfant Jadis (I Was a Child Once). The vitalism blowing through a torn mother earth is inhaled in lines that act as both channels and chatter, whose tone is unredemptive. The emotion comes from its clamour. Voices clang and chime. Each section contains a violence both distinct from and in tune with the others, while nearly every poem has a detectable ventriloquism—dead or disembodied voices laid into each other, sometimes lyric, sometimes scavenged. Sometimes the voices feel pained, other times they kid.

Megan Jeanne Gette reviews EFG by Valerie Hsiung.

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On Taylor Larsen’s Stranger, Father, Beloved published 27/06/2017

What happens when a reader expects a novel to be one thing and it ends up being something else altogether? This is not an infrequent occurrence in my reading life. Perhaps I pay too much attention to jacket copy and blurbs. Or perhaps the fault lies with the capitalistic machinery that strives to recreate the last hit instead of organically producing a new one. Whatever the cause, it’s really not the author’s fault that the book she wrote isn’t the book you thought you were reading.

Drew Broussard reviews Stranger, Father, Beloved by Taylor Larsen.

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