:: Reviews

More 3:AM Books of the Year published 20/12/2017

When the last Woolworth’s finally closed, the sexual playground of a haunted English eroticism was lost forever. Glen Zipes’s urgent little book recalls the misery of the strange pathologies of the grim mauve sadness and holiness of these sacrilegious shopping emporia. Zipes writes badly, and there are moments when it isn’t easy to separate his own state of mind from the worlds he describes. But there is a seedy love here, somewhere between murder and onanism, and we all know that that is the exact territory of our lonely essential significance.

More Books of the Year from 3:AM Magazine.

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All the Way Up and All the Way Down published 17/12/2017

Triplow quotes novelist David Peace referring to ‘a sustained war’ on working-class culture, leading to writers such as Lewis, John Braine and Alan Sillitoe being sidelined. Maybe – no mainstream British political party finds that culture attractive today although all, in the past, have sought to woo it. But the aspirationalism which Lewis criticises could also have played its part in that culture’s decline: people want to forget where they’ve striven to escape from. And Britain – being the land of the diamond geezer, decent bloke and jolly good chap – is perhaps particularly full of those unwilling to even admit that life has a dark side, let alone examine it.

Nicky Charlish on Getting Carter – Ted Lewis and the Birth of Brit Noir by Nick Triplow.

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3:AM Books of the Year published 04/12/2017

When the author met her husband-to-be, he did not even own a smartphone, but with personal technological advances came distraction, fame, and ultimately, divorce. Told through ironic fragments of 140 characters, this Twitter-inspired ‘auto-fiction’ protests everything that is wrong (or merely confusing) in modern life, and probes the deeper motives for living a life primarily online. At times sad, lacklustre and annoyed, the memoir nevertheless displays genuine compassion for its antagonist, and for the human desire to escape reality (however promising), and champion illusions.

Presenting our Books of the Year 2017.

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Porcelain Remains: a review of All My Goodbyes by Mariana Dimópulos published 21/11/2017

All My Goodbyes review

For Sontag, via Benjamin, “a book is not only a fragment of the world but itself a little world … [and] the best way to understand [it] is also to enter [its] space”. To enter the space of All My Goodbyes is to cross a threshold into a broken world. “I had as many pieces as a broken vase,” relates the book’s unnamed narrator, “and I never found a way to put them back together or even to number my porcelain remains.”

Anna MacDonald reviews All My Goodbyes by Mariana Dimópulos.

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From Low Life Noir to Tragic Flight: John Haskell’s The Complete Ballet published 14/11/2017

The Complete Ballet review

It’s possible to learn a lot about ballet in Haskell’s book but that’s not the point. Or not the only one. That the book takes the form of a nonfiction essay in these first pages is an act of seduction that quietly evolves into the anxiety-generating plot of what is also a psychological noir novel. And such is the authority and conviction in the narrative voice that it took a while before I was sure that I was in fact reading a novel rather than thinly disguised autobiography.

Des Barry reviews The Complete Ballet by John Haskell.

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Into the Light: A review of The Last Summer by Ricarda Huch published 03/11/2017

The Last Summer - review

The Last Summer, a slim epistolary novel makes its first appearance in the English-language this year, courtesy of UK-based Peirene Press, as part of their East and West Series. Published as Der letzte Sommer in 1910, Huch remains largely unknown to English readers.

Ray Barker reviews The Last Summer by Ricarda Huch.

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‘Now I will give you white things’: a review of Han Kang’s The White Book published 02/11/2017

For Han Kang, white is no ‘original’ surface, no canvas; it conceals. It is snow, cloud, white fur over pink skin, ‘a whiteout inside his head’, ‘feathers feathering down’. The beauty of the book as a physical object (like every Portobello edition) makes you constantly aware of its whiteness; the binding is white, the cover – and half of the pages are blank, untouched by the brief vignettes. Except that, in one of Kang’s own formulations, the text is ‘black writing bleeding through thin paper’. Her words, with effort and pain, reveal themselves from behind hundreds of white shells.

By Oscar Farley.

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The accidental ethnographer: Michel Leiris and Phantom Africa published 26/10/2017

Phantom Africa

What makes Phantom Africa such a fascinating document is Leiris’ observational acuity and emotional honesty. His presumed audience is ambiguous. He is keeping this peripheral record with the intent of publishing, yet it seems as if he is writing, first and foremost, for himself and for his wife.

Joseph Schreiber reviews Phantom Africa by Michel Leiris.

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Make my day… and night: a review of Punk is Dead published 25/10/2017

Andy Blade, singer, reminisces declaring, punk’s not dead, it’s in a coma. His is the most honest appraisal in the book. From the seminal NOW FORM A BAND chord instruction in Sideburns fanzine, he says the louder, messier, Oi! side of punk – which won out with bands like Cockney Rejects, Sham 69, Boomtown Rats, UK Subs – taking its throne because Punk Rock itself is intellectual, and its ‘art angle had been dispensed with for the simple reason that art intellectuals generally don’t sell shitloads of records, and arty intellectualism does not go down too well in places like Wrexham, Luton, Milton Keynes, or North Wales – because the general public live in these shitty little places, and they don’t get it.

By Kirsty Allison.

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Tiny Acts of Witchcraft: A review of Aase Berg’s Hackers published 24/10/2017

Berg begins her collection by recalling the story of the female warrior Penthesilea, who according to legend, was murdered by Achilles. The Penthesilea Painter’s vase painting from 470-460 BCE depicts Penthesilea and Achilles with their eyes locked at the moment of her death at the tip of his spear. The vase painting offers the salacious viewer voyeurism of two kinds, by combining the moment of death with a moment of lust. In this forensic split second, Achilles both kills and desires his prey.

Laura Joyce reviews Hackers by Aase Berg.

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