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

When does the person become the body? A Review of Don DeLillo’s Zero K published 22/07/2016

In the end, Zero K left me with a sense of vague dissatisfaction, but I think this has much more to do with the hysteria around the novel-as-event, and less to do with the book per se. The novel is a journey, and if it is frustrating, that’s actually okay because the story is about contemporary frustrations with the (mis)adventure of human progress.

By Christopher Schaberg.

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A Raven’s Eye View published 11/07/2016

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It is links such as this that give the book such a cumulative power. The small setting allows Bullough to overlay images upon one another. Oliver is seen often a raven, named Maureen, sitting on his shoulder, or circling the sky above his head. Of course, ravens do not live for over 60 years, but Maureen is ever-present, different birds gathered under a single name. So much in the book is contained with this image: when I now think of the novel, in its totality, I see the farm from a raven’s eye view. I see the many characters superimposed upon the landscape, and tractors and horses and land rovers furrowing tracks on the same land. The overall impression I was left with was of Funnon Farm as a ghostly intersection, with new technologies marshalling old ideas.

James Tookey reviews Tom Bullough‘s Addlands.

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Far from home: A review of After Tomorrow the Days Disappear by Hasan Sijzi published 04/07/2016

After the Days Disappear

Not only is After Tomorrow the Days Disappear a valuable addition to the corpus of world literature in translation, making available to a much larger audience poetry of one of the pioneers of a form that has captivated the Oriental and Occidental imagination alike, but it is also a timely book, appearing in English at a time when the world and its many ideologies needs it.

Saudamini Deo reviews After Tomorrow the Days Disappear by Hasan Sijzi of Delhi.

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Quiet Creature on the Corner and the Limits of Criticism published 23/06/2016

QuietCreature

But what of a work that resists the critical apparatus to such a degree that even failure itself seems out of reach? What of a text that begins to dissipate at the merest suggestion of a thesis, an angle? Enter João Gilberto Noll’s 1991 mid-career effort, Quiet Creature on the Corner, a work of sustained resistance to interpretation, a literary Rorschach blot that swells until the ink itself subsumes the sky.

Dustin Illingworth reviews Quiet Creature on the Corner by João Gilberto Noll.

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Between Absence and Forgetting: A review of Human Acts by Han Kang published 14/06/2016

Human Acts by Han Kang

Human Acts is animated by the death of fifteen-year-old Dong-ho, who finds himself at the centre of the student-led resistance. Rendered in six episodes that begins with Dong-ho in 1980 and ends with the author in 2013, the reader witnesses six characters in the aftermath of the Gwangju Uprising and the effects of their experience and participation as the silence of the event grows in the public sphere. Han positions each of the characters on the line between absence and forgetting, compelled to remember through their precarious proximities to an event that violated hundreds of people’s right to death.

Ryan Chang reviews Human Acts by Han Kang, trans. by Deborah Smith.

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The Pathos of Ephemera: A Review of A Bestiary by Lily Hoang published 31/05/2016

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Hoang’s claim that A Bestiary is an incongruous combination is instructive. Elements of fable, memoir, flash fiction, lyric essay and commonplace book are placed in dialogue as Hoang leads the reader from a story about the speaker’s deceased sister’s battle with heroin addiction to a quote from David Foster Wallace, to a note on Mao Zedong’s Four Pests campaign.

Bridget Bergin reviews A Bestiary by Lily Hoang.

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The Precarious In-Betweens: Rosmarie Waldrop’s Gap Gardening published 30/05/2016

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Waldrop’s language has the rare ability to accommodate the reader’s interpretations while maintaining its own strange character. I’ve come to understand Waldrop’s oeuvre as exercises in simultaneity, a desire to enact in-betweenness. In resisting a totalitarian language, she proposes that the presence of a gap does not negate the existence of a garden.

Miriam W. Karraker reviews Gap Gardening by Rosmarie Waldrop.

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No Holy Grail: A review of The Violet Hour by Katie Roiphe published 26/05/2016

The Violet Hour

Roiphe’s own pre-occupation with the subject of mortality stems from a life-threatening case of pneumonia when she was twelve. Her memory is vivid: "I forget how to breathe. I am being pulled underwater. The taxi driver carries me into the emergency room because I’ve passed out in the cab." Roiphe compares herself to a soldier unable to re-attune to civilian life, always mentally drawn back to a point of danger and trauma. This sense that early intimations of mortality can lead to a lifelong sense of trauma is largely borne out by Roiphe’s subjects. 

Thom Cuell reviews The Violet Hour by Katie Roiphe.

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David Foster Wallace and String Theory published 19/05/2016

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David Foster Wallace’s true non-ostensible subject in these five essays would seem unsurprisingly to be, more often than not, writing—the game of tennis, that is, frequently serves as a metaphor for or simply evokes the art of writing in Wallace’s sports musings.

Ben Leubner on David Foster Wallace‘s String Theory: David Foster Wallace on Tennis.

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Skank: The World’s Most Dangerous Comic Book published 15/05/2016

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Back when Skank and Attack! Books were rolling there was a sense of writing as being hardly the point, words being an excuse to present a comedic matter that doesn’t always rescue silence but gets close, with sentences just a further excuse to find such words; and through the fog of anguish which is the obvious mystery of life, they worked to prove these claims of comedy over tragedy, to float that idea out and test it. Punk felt like that too. That sensibility is here in this book.

Richard Marshall reviews Bobby Joseph‘s Skank.

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