:: Reviews

Disclosing Being – On Raymond Chandler: The Detections of Totality by Fredric Jameson published 06/12/2016

The small length of Jameson’s book adds a tightness to its arguments and the style is often Chandler-esque: words are not wasted, literary observations are pin-sharp and there are some wry aperçu. Winningly, Jameson occasionally employs the genre’s rhetoric, so his theorising becomes the pursuing of “lines of enquiry”, a “procedure”, etc. It’s touches like this that make Jameson such a joy to read, as well as the density of ideas to be found in what could appear to be a pretty skimpy text.

Cornelius Fitz reviews Raymond Chandler: The Detections of Totality by Fredric Jameson.

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Talking About Woman: A review of La Femme de Gilles by Madeleine Bourdouxhe published 01/12/2016

La Femme de Gilles review

Bourdouxhe’s story is one of a woman driven to remedy her husband’s betrayal. The wife/woman of the title (“femmes” holds this double meaning, hence the artful choice not to choose which by using the title in the original French for the translation), seems compelled to behave just so in order to covertly manipulate her husband into tiring of the affair and back into embracing their marriage. Simply put: it’s a painful read. We want her to leave the cad.

Cara Benson reviews La Femme de Gilles by Madeleine Bourdouxhe.

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Romance in the age of alienated labour: a review of One Hundred Shadows by Hwang Jungeun published 29/11/2016

One Hundred Shadows review

The language of One Hundred Shadows is spare, pared down to convey the most basic information, further lending the story the aura of a fable. On one level, Eungyon and Mujae seem to exist in a pleasant haze, going on spontaneous dates, eating cheap food, taking long walks and having rambling conversations. Underneath the carefully-cultivated layer of an easygoing lifestyle, however, there is a force of anxious energy that is tied to both the rising shadows and a future without stable work.

Subashini Navaratnam reviews One Hundred Shadows by Hwang Jungeun.

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Angry People in Local Newspapers published 22/11/2016

It is easy to dismiss local news as irrelevant and outdated into today’s world of instant online, global communication; the preserve of headlines like ‘Old Mrs Miggins has a funny turn on the No. 30 bus’ and ‘Newsagent runs out of five pence pieces’. The Angry People in Local Newspapers blog, while celebrating the work of photographers, carries the implicit message that people pointing at potholes or performing petty acts of municipal revenge is all a bit sad and pointless.

John P. Houghton reviews The Mediated City.

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Death In Situ: Sifting Through Gabriele Tinti’s Last Words published 07/11/2016

Last Words by Gabriele Tinti

Research shows that 12-15% of those who commit suicide leave notes; Last Words offers a superficial glimpse of the phenomenon of suicide in light of the silent majority who did not leave notes. Yet the notes seem to be predicated on the belief of the ability of language to bear witness, and in this regard Last Words may be vitally instructive.

E.G. Cunningham reviews Last Words by Gabriele Tinti.

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Bye Bye Blondie published 31/10/2016

All I want is for some King Kong of a man to kill me, preferably after raping me like in a porn movie. ‘No wait,’ Virginie Despentes interrupted, ‘we’ve been there with Baise-moi, which American capitalist wankers marketed as Kiss Me. We need something new to get even with Michel Houellebecq and other alpha-male apes. Perhaps you, as a rebellious teenager, could blow up a bunch of middle-class losers using a TNT tampax?’ ‘You’ve been there too, with Apocalypse Baby,’ Gloria said, dragging on a super-powerful joint her disgusting angelic-looking boyfriend had proffered her.

Anna Aslanyan ‘reviews’ Virginie DespentesBye Bye Blondie.

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Dylan’s American Poetical Company published 26/10/2016

It strikes me that what is enjoyed in contemporary American poets is also what can be enjoyed in Dylan. If you can speak about technique, content, spirit, form, about whether the work is catching ‘the natural impression of any object or event,’ whether there’s ‘vividness,’ ‘imagination’, ‘passion’ and ‘a certain modulation of the voice, or sounds, expressing it’ which is what Hazlitt was asking from Coleridge, Wordsworth, Keats and the rest of the band back in his day, and if you can do so without it seeming not to fit, then I think you’re talking about a poet. If it looks, walks and quacks like a duck then its a duck.

Richard Marshall reviews Christopher Burt‘s The Poem Is You and Thinks Dylan’s In Good Company.

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Reality and Its Dreams published 22/10/2016

Internal criticism, for Geuss as for Adorno, is not typically ‘productive’ in offering a solution for the problems criticized. But here he also offers a second implicit response to the charge of bleakness in developing a philosophical account of ‘utopian thinking’, an imaginative activity that addresses discontents and persistent, unsatisfied desires in the present.

John Rapko reviews Raymond GeussReality and Its Dreams.

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‘The failure of so many urban utopias’ published 21/10/2016

The language of city living and the urban experience is everywhere around us, but beyond new development industry marketing speak, what do such terms actually mean? At the heart of the book is a story about the socio-economic and architectural transformation of one city over the past 40 years. That city is London, the author’s place of birth and current employment, and that story about the capital is detailed, engaging, witty, and occasionally angry.

John P. Houghton reviews Dejan Sudjic‘s The Language of Cities.

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Notes from the Enemy’s Camp: On John D’Agata’s New History of the Essay published 17/10/2016

Just what is an essay, then? D’Agata never really tells us. Or, rather, he does tell us, in 118 different riffs on his opening proposition that essays are “about human wondering.” The effect of following after D’Agata as he combs from scrap to definitional scrap is stunning. The essay is a vehicle for freethinking. It’s an experiment. It lacks confidence and brims with emotional doubt. It’s a transcript of its creator’s mind. It’s deeply deceptive, and might only reflect whomever the author wishes he were. It’s often written in the first person, or the third, but also the second, and sometimes smatterings of each. Essays are perception, indirection, failure, and experience; they’re human in their flirtation with the way things are and the way they might be.

Daegan Miller reviews A New History of the Essay by John D’Agata.

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