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

The Textured Narratives of Valeria Luiselli’s The Story of My Teeth published 17/09/2015

The Story of My Teeth

Luiselli suggests that Highway Sánchez’s task is the task of the writer: to transform the mundane, the everyday, the unnoticed into valuable art. Or, as Sánchez’s describes his auctioneering: “I’m like the people who scavenge in your garbage. But with pedigree. I expurgate, I find. I aromatize, clean, and disinfect. I recycle.”

Alex McElroy reviews The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli.

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To the land of malady: a review of Now and at the hour of our death by Susana Moreira Marques published 08/09/2015

Susana Moreira Marques - Now

“We obsess over lasts as we do over firsts. Last days, last images, last words. We want signs.” George Lakoff and Mark Johnson gave us the seminal study of the extent to which language shapes our thoughts in Metaphors we live by; Susana Moreira Marques has, in turn, illuminated some of the metaphors we die by.

Laura Garmeson reviews Now and at the hour of our death by Susana Moreira Marques.

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Immortality Isn’t Forever published 05/09/2015


Something of the heart is truly broken here, which means the appetite feels intimidated and defensive. But everything feels broke as well as broken, as if it’s a story where the cheque bounced and that was all you had left. This, after all, is about the guy Nietzsche told us we could depend on, the one guy we should put our money on to stave off the emptiness and the horror. What we get instead of help is a little parenthesis of light with a hell of a lot of dark, and the feeling that there’s a whole lot more of the dark coming.

Richard Marshall reviews Eddie Campbell‘s Bacchus.

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Philosophical Toys published 26/08/2015


Reading this takes us to the libidinal chaos of the founding stories, a female Christ, doubles, and in the novel Nina’s mother ‘… a star…[who] needed a lackey… she would sing, she would tell endless stories, but then they had a gagging effect on you these stories… now and again she would spark off a scandal, she had to get all the attention, even if it was negative attention.’ The mother is the scandal who shakes the world out of a torpor through presenting her beauty as both a necessity and consequence: ‘… my mother in the street, with no clothes on, hysterical naked, with a folded gown hanging on her arm, wearing just a pair of yellow stilettos, definitely drunk, she used to say wine was good for your blood, she was so pale.’

Richard Marshall reviews Susana Medina‘s Philosophical Toys.

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Trolls published 25/08/2015


Philips argues that there is only the thinnest of lines between trolling and sensationalist corporate media. The main difference is that Trolls do it for leisure and for no pay whereas corporate media do it as a business strategy and get paychecks. She claims that they are comfortable fits within the hypernetworked digital media landscape. Trolls use the internet technologies creatively and expertly. They align with corporate and social media marketers. They mobilize the dominate cultural tropes of adversarial and (mainly white) male gendered notions of success, dominance, western entitlement, expansionism and colonialism, and embody the key values of the USA – life , liberty and freedom of expression.

Richard Marshall reviews Whitney Phillips’ ‘This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things. Mapping the Relationshp Between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture.

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Trade Encroaching a Sacrament… published 22/08/2015


Armand’s writing is perceptual, vivid, senses drenched – and so the visceral and bodily responses are foregrounded throughout. Yet by so doing his writing connects us to the neural circuits that instantaneously appraise the perceptions felt along the dimensions of the hedonic, the prudential, dangerous, noxious, nourishing and so on, a buckled sensory array that each organismic character is relating to. These are the bed rock of Armand’s writing, whereby he reenacts as simulations the raw material of biographical narratives whilst showing that these are selves that depend – overdepend – on the bodily stimuli. Without that, they lose a sense of self-identity, as if they have lost in some very distinctive way, a necessarily personal perspective on the information.

Richard Marshall reviews Loius Armand’s Abacus.

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Recurrent Unconsidered Joy: A review of Hidden Valleys by Justin Barton published 19/08/2015


Hidden Valleys involves a large amount of country wandering, though with more precarity than the Armitages and MacFarlanes are currently enduring. During Barton’s teenage years, he and his mother travelled the country from hotel to hostel, town to village, against the sour backdrop of familial strife and a contested will. His investment in the landscape, then, was everything but professional.

Cal Revely-Calder on Hidden Valleys by Justin Barton.

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The river is immense: a review of Southeaster by Haroldo Conti published 07/08/2015


Sudeste by Haroldo Conti is a novel set in the margins, on the mouth of the delta, a landscape of channels, canals, sandbanks, islands, and reeds, and it tells the story of Boga and his restless movement through this habitat. This is a world of light and water, reeds and birds, fish and currents, boats and tides, sky and wind, guns and knives, life and death.

Iain Robinson reviews Haroldo Conti‘s Southeaster

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A Holiday-Sized Revolution: A review of Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett published 06/08/2015

Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett

The style feels modernist-y, has points where it verges on sing-song, verse, or essay, and is very aware of the obfuscating tyranny of language: in other words, a properly modern work.

William Harris reviews Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett.

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Sam Dunn Is Dead & Theory of the Great Game. published 05/08/2015


For them the situation required blood and moon crazyness to redirect social synapses into something thrillingly new, refreshed and collective. They indulged in experimental metaphysics and took copious drugs to this end. They saw no point in merely building a left wing political party or joining up with a Surrealism that seemed at times to be nothing more than just another idealist protest group. Instead readers of the magazine were to come face to face with themselves. The idea was ‘to make them despair.’ What they suspected was that the avant-garde-ists and all their potential allies were largely acting in bad faith and were merely concocting intellectual and artistic distractions.

Richard Marshall reviews Bruno Corra’s Sam Dunn is Dead and Rene Daumal & Roger Gilbert-Lecomte etc’s Theory of the Great Game.

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