:: Reviews

Everywhere the glow of something waiting to end: On Gary J Shipley’s Warewolff! published 05/10/2017

Even in the face of things that seem impossibly alien in both subject and sentiment, the narratorial voice surveys it all with total detachment. And nor should it be any other way. Shipley has bored a hole into the inner life of a multitude of subconscious minds, and whatever pours out is judged on its own terms, without dissemblance or apology. The weight of these many realities has stripped away the need for anything else, and the result reads like a dry confessional.

Lucy Brady reviews Warewolff! by Gary J Shipley.

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Trapped in their traumas: On Katalin Street by Magda Szabó published 03/10/2017

Katalin Street review

Reading the short, melancholy Katalin Street made me remember the time when machine-gun wielding Yugoslav soldiers removed me from a train in the middle of the night. It also made me recall being robbed by two men in the shadows of Tahrir Square in Cairo, how close they held a knife to my face as I lay trembling on the ground. I wouldn’t say these were defining moments in my life, but they certainly cast a long shadow.

Nick Holdstock reviews Katalin Street by Magda Szabó.

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Hefner: The Virginia Woolf of Pornotopia published 30/09/2017

Preciado sees Playboy as a ‘titanic allegoric operation.’ He died having succeeded in what he set out to do , ‘… namely, to construct a collective sexual imaginary capable of implementing, right in the middle of the Cold War, a new set of affects, bodily habits, and desires that prepared the shift from a disciplinary society, with its repressive norms and bodily regulations, toward a pharmacopornographic regime characterized by immaterial labour, postdomestic space, the psychotropic and chemical regulation of subjectivity, prosthetic extension of the sexual body, electronic sexual surveillance, and consumption of intimacy.’

Richard Marshall reviews Beatriz Preciado‘s book about Hugh Hefner‘s Playboy legacy.

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Wanderer within the wastes: On Anselm Kiefer’s Walhalla published 28/09/2017


The literary is a continually recurring presence in Kiefer’s work. The motif of lead books, often suspended with their pages open and exposed, the textual fragments daubed across pictorial canvasses, and the words of white chalk smudged across the surfaces of his sculptures, result in an oeuvre whose four corners are contaminated with language. Central to this linguistic taint is the figure of Celan whose own ruined poetics haunts a similar space to the one occupied by Kiefer’s artworks. A focal point for the art of both is the Second World War and, more particularly, the Shoah. The problem which the genocidal acts perpetrated by the Nazis have for art, for philosophy, and for the understanding of what it means to be human, continue to reverberate through history to the present.

Daniel Fraser on Anselm Kiefer’s Walhalla.

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Treading Water and Light: A Tetralogy by Marc Vincenz published 26/09/2017

Becoming the Sound of Bees

Vincenz is every bit as pelagic as Conrad and Melville. He’s faced with a new kind of watery element that “spits and froths green bile along her worn edges”. He provides a searingly vivid picture of our current pathological ecosystem, where “something always has to be made, and something else has to be made to make it” and “torn billboards still intrude with their ambition”. Along the way we meet people who recur with all the idiosyncratic solidity of the most gripping fiction.

Tom Bradley reviews a tetralogy by Marc Vincenz.

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The Rite of Lusus Naturæ published 24/09/2017

On the canvas green book cover of the Portobello edition of Such Small Hands, we see a compact pink figurine, her head almost too big or too adult for her body, and her hands, too small. They are clutched fists at her waist, long-hanging fruit refusing to ripen.

Yelena Moskovich reviews Andrés Barba‘s Such Small Hands.

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Last Exit to Beckton published 23/09/2017

The style aims for T. S. Eliot, recounting lost souls going about their hollow lives in the unreal city, but reads more like J. R. Hartley, betraying his befuddlement at the modern world. And we don’t stop there. Shared desk spaces, that most benign of office space management innovations, are a repeated cause of anger beyond all reason. Yet even worse than the “shared desk digital zombies” are the “phone addicts” with their “smart electronic devices” who are most guilty for the snuffing out of London’s soul. How, why, is never quite made clear.

John P. Houghton reviews Iain Sinclair‘s The Last London.

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The New Spoilt published 22/09/2017

Being raised in gentrified York for a while I have known families like this, and parties like these. When individual psychopathy, stoked by rural isolation, becomes group psychopathy. The most terrifying aspect of it all is that you are simply not surprised by such events. As you know that hidden behind the Agas, under the lavish carpets, and festering in the drinks cabinet is a very English savagery waiting to spring forth, with no self-awareness. Goddard describes English savagery in 2017 with wit, subtle insight, and compelling accuracy. Dostoevskian in scope, psychoanalytical in depth, Nature and Necessity is grimly addictive. I found myself both savouring, and in awe of many lines that are almost surgical in their insight.

Guy Mankowski reviews Tariq Goddard‘s Nature and Necessity.

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Mister P. Goes To Town: A review of Making It by Norman Podhoretz published 20/09/2017

After Podhoretz had finished Making It, he sent it off to his Columbia professor, Lionel Trilling. Trilling—like most of the other Family members who read the manuscript—advised Podhoretz to throw it away. Trilling was worried that his former student had been too frank about his hunger for worldly acclaim. It made no difference how good the writer was: anyone who admitted so casually to craving attention, envy, and a high salary would be scorned out of their profession.

Jackson Arn reviews Making It by Norman Podhoretz.

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The Vivid Resurrection of a Post-Punk Literary Icon published 19/09/2017

After Kathy Acker engenders a powerful desire to read (or reread) all of Acker’s work in the light of Kraus’s revelations of the connection between Acker’s lived life with the art that emerged from it. Not that it’s necessary to have read Acker before reading this biography – hopefully Kraus’s book will help new readers find the work.

Des Barry reviews After Kathy Acker by Chris Kraus.

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