:: Reviews

Queer as in Queering: a review of Communal Nude: Collected Essays by Robert Glück published 06/10/2016

Communal Nude

Brought to life as an appreciative yet critical reaction to the 60s and 70s avant-garde of the Language poets, Robert Glück’s and Bruce Boone’s New Narrative (a movement which also included Francesca Rosa, Kevin Killian, Sam D’Allesandro, Camille Roy, Dodie Bellamy, Mike Amnasan among others) assembled but also critiqued various experimental forms and techniques to a rather clear cut end – to ruin the locus, the ivory tower inhabited by a sole meaning-maker (the author) and replace it with a community of meaning-makers (the readers) who go beyond recognising themselves in a narrative and generate political and social change.

MH reviews Communal Nude by Robert Glück.

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The Empty Hourglass: Mike Kleine’s Cosmology in Kanley Stubrick published 22/09/2016


Kleine’s novella-in-verse achieves ephemeral constancy through the use of the fragment as a signal for filmic cuts. Part of the anchoring effect of Kanley is due to its treatment of both the continuous and the discontinuous: “This new and mysterious dream. / where / everything feels like it is burning” confronts the startlingly-contemporary observation “it’s like real lyfe”. Scenario, rather than plot, guides the movement of Stubrick.

E.G. Cunningham reviews Kanley Stubrick by Mike Kleine.

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Let’s hit the road, Terror: A review of Dodge and Burn by Seraphina Madsen published 20/09/2016

Dodge and Burn review

Mesmerising, episodic, full of wonder and very cool dialogue (“Let’s hit the road, Terror”), Dodge and Burn is deeply committed to exploring the possibilities of language and describing unconventional experiences.

Jude Cook reviews Dodge and Burn by Seraphina Madsen.

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Lady Maisery published 18/09/2016


Although they are firmly located in the contemporary folk scene, they are not contained by it: when I first came across them, at a time when they were still testing their convergences and limits, they put me in mind of the Swingles performing Berio, or the Raincoats on Odyshape.

Paul Holman reviews Lady Maisery‘s Cycle.

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The Bastards of Pizzofalcone published 02/09/2016


In the Bastard books, we have contemporary Naples in all its noisy complexity, and a group of cops whose insights into crime arise as much from their own imperfections as from their training and experience.

Rohan Maitzen on Maurizio de Giovanni‘s Bastards of Pizzofalcone series.

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600 Years Of Defiant Pose published 27/08/2016


At the fag-end of the 1980’s … writing’s anti-authorial, anti-purist, anti-linear, anti-referential and deeply linguistic character was something in the air then. It was an update of Joyce’s ‘polyglottal’ ‘Wake’ project, a sexier, more chic version … that works with and through language, a clash of two codes, textual and bibliographic, but with a further density to the polysemy and plurivocity added, that of a fragmented elucidation. Acker and others – Bill Burroughs was another clear example – were writing monsters of subversion where theme, narrative, character and plot were their targets. Words were no longer subject to the equation that they meant just one thing, or even one cluster of things. Meaning was now just an effect of language not of anything lying within or behind it. Authorial intention and determination was eroded and instead labyrinths of possibility and acrostic sampling were being produced in a kind of hip, punk slippage to indeterminancy. The improvisory, intermedial experience of reading became a biological-emotional state of hyper-real decision making and play.

Richard Marshall reviews the 25th Anniversary Edition of Stewart Home‘s Defiant Pose.

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Portals of escape: A review of Counternarratives by John Keene published 25/08/2016


Taken as a whole, the book reads as an alternative literary history, moving from slave rebellions in the early Americas to the development of Black Atlantic modernism before ending in a nightmarish vision of contemporary globalised suffering.

Tim Groenland reviews Counternarratives by John Keene.

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Reacting against limitations, rejecting capitalist realism published


Reacting against limitations is part of the Repeater Books philosophy. Their vision calls for a rejection of ‘capitalist realism’ in favour of writing which combines ‘vigorous dissent and a pragmatic willingness to succeed where messianic abstraction and quiescent co-operation have stalled’. They dismiss the idea of the artist existing on a plane removed from the everyday: ‘abstention is not an option: we are alive and we don’t agree’. In terms of style, they oppose the ‘fashionable cynicism, egotistical self-reference and nostalgia for the recent past’ which plagues 21st Century arts and letters.

By Thom Cuell.

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Thinking Images: More Barthes, More Jouissance published


Barthes, however, does not view the image as either harmful or beneficial. On reflection, harm-or-benefit is a binary too simplistic to capture the process whereby things mean something. Instead, Barthes seeks to understand how and why the very idea of semantic proliferation is constitutive of the formation and growth of human understanding.

Leonid Bilmes on Roland Barthes‘s Signs and Images.

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Louis Armand’s The Combinations published 16/08/2016


Roland Barthes dreamed of Armand’s book when he writes: ‘only allude to writing before going off somewhere else’ where writing becomes a quasi-linguistic function existing already in excess of itself, ‘rehearsing the contemporary tropes of the semioticians’. For Barthes the photographic image can’t be made into an analogue for something else because it is the analogue of the impossible, ‘an image whose detonation is … finally reducible only to the reflexive movement of its own enframing, between two shots, two anachronistic moments. ‘ It represents ‘the perfection and plenitude of its analogy.’ And that analogy risks being mythological and artefactual. ‘an issueless predicament of nothing.’ Armand’s novel is a sequence plenum of this Barthean process.

Richard Marshall reviews Louis Armand‘s The Combinations.

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