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

Mescalin, mystics and madness published 27/02/2016

Aldous Huxley was a famous but unlikely crusader for psychedelic drugs and their mind-expanding capabilities. English, classically educated and the hard-thinking contemporary of T.S. Elliot and Bertrand Russell, his position as a precursor to Timothy Leary remains one of the most intriguing subplots of 1960s American counterculture. Unlike his friend D.H. Lawrence, for example, who voices his rebellions against mainstream culture angrily throughout his essays and fiction, Huxley writes with an objectivism and gentlemanly calm apparently at odds with his radical visions. Allene Symons’ Aldous Huxley’s Hands is part Huxley biography, part history of psychedelic science but also an attempt by a daughter to commemorate her father’s amateur scientific research into the physiognomy of hands.

By Guy Stevenson.

» Read more...

Dodge Rose and the Concept of Difficult Literature published 22/02/2016

dodge rose letter

Rather, what makes Dodge Rose not only difficult but lushly, productively so—for this reader at least—is its sophisticated interrogation of the materiality of life and death. This perhaps sounds weightier than necessary; truthfully, I mean to say only that Cox’s novel compelled me to consider the thingness of life, and the dimensions, both comic and tragic, of our passing possession of it.

Dustin Illingworth reviews Dodge Rose by Jack Cox.

» Read more...

Poor Quartets published 18/02/2016

bernhard-goethe-chop

Goethe Dies, a collection of short pieces initially published in German periodicals in the early 1980s, goes some way to frame its author’s relationship with the negative romance of a running order. Although pegged in a period pushed along by the booming influence of mass media, Thomas Bernhard’s insistence seems be constantly on looking backwards. For Bernhard, retrospection and nostalgia are tools to play with history – to upset the performance of culture’s chronology.

Dominic Jaeckle reviews Goethe Dies by Thomas Bernhard.

» Read more...

Naoko Haruta and the Arboreal Imagination published 14/02/2016

trees60

It is a unique and bold venture, this series of Ms. Haruta, one which immanently employs and enjoins East and West and which surely places Ms. Haruta at the center of those brave contemporary spirits who refuse the self‐ deluded provisos to which art contemporaneity in practice and discourse gives itself in an epoch‐‐already unfolding sixty years ago‐‐of the total inundation of all forms and discourse in the modes of aesthetic modernityʹs conflicting and polyvalent projects of transgression, negation, disassemblage, zero degree reduction, purification, displacement, and preformed and postulated reversal, an epoch increasingly inimical to substantialist adventure and affection and for which substantialism, thereby, art contemporaneity has substituted the automatism of received and enacted gambits, gimmicks, prefabrications, and signals in a constant mens momentanea of indifferentiation and the arbitrary, i.e. Ryman, Richter, Reed, Guyton, Wools, Oehlen, Koether, etc. etc.

Steve Light on the Trees series of paintings by Naoko Haruta.

» Read more...

‘Marooned at a tangent to the everyday’: Katrina Palmer’s The Necropolitan Line published 13/02/2016

Z

An uncomfortable emotional charge is experienced by the would-be passenger alongside the realisation that sitting there, waiting for something that will never arrive, you are actually on the Necropolitan Line, journeying passively towards the time of your own death. In this frame of mind, the Platform Announcer’s murmur about proceeding towards the white light – the clear signal, as opposed to the danger signal – seems to suggest ‘near death’ narratives with their images of heading towards a bright light.

Bridget Penney on the installation by Katrina Palmer.

» Read more...

Dear Reader, I Spit On You – A Book and an Exhibition published 08/02/2016

Bukaka Spat Here

What is this? Is it a novel? Is it an anti-novel? Is it an anti-anti-novel? Is it a comic book about the exploits of an outrageous superhero – Bukaka? Is it a joke? It is perhaps all of these things and none. Brener/Schurz use the rubble of literature to further destroy capitalist power structures.

Steve Finbow reviews Bukaka Spat Here by Alexander Brener/Barbara Schurz.

» Read more...

Tiny Adventures to Please Our Dirty Minds: A review of Sophia by Michael Bible published 02/02/2016

Sofia by Michael Bible

This novel likes to show a vicious love for its Great American Predecessors; refracted through Maloney’s hazy attention, and surrounded by hazier others, the narrative doesn’t care much for being impersonal, but you can trace the lineaments of a carelessly-disguised glee at starting a knife-fight in the hall of fame.

Cal Revely-Calder reviews Sophia: a novel by Michael Bible.

» Read more...

Enthusiasm published 23/12/2015

CGl3v0UW8AIvu_T.jpg-small

He works in the limits of what he calls, as an abbreviation for the complexities, ‘enthusiasm.’ Of course there’s not a single proposition attached to that label. But it is something ‘not limited by anything & the imagination of flight is apparently a mild head cold to the viral germ warfare we ought suddenly employ when thinking about what we might do with our future time…’. That is the ultimate focus. No summarized norms, epistemic stances calibrated to measure the dreamed metaphysical ghouls, maybe even harness them, or drive a stake through to a heart, or a yacht to navigate territories. ‘Water/ doesn’t need a boat you arrogant fuck.

Richard Marshall reviews S.J. Fowler‘s ‘Enthusiasm.’

» Read more...

“They can sag a little, can’t they?”: The extraordinary careers of two divas from Berlin published

620

As we read through Wieland’s thoroughly researched and riveting account of both women’s lives, we, the readers, become moral detectives.

Jenny McPhee reviews Karen Wieland‘s Dietrich & Riefenstahl

» Read more...

Child’s Play: On William Gass’s Eyes published 22/12/2015

eyesmain

This playfulness is most clearly on display when Gass is exploring the life of things. “To the things themselves!” is, of course, an old philosophical injunction, the battle-cry of phenomenologists searching for a less critical, yet still concrete kind of truth in the lived experience of the world around us. But, never just a philosopher (though it has served as a distinguished career for him), Gass interprets this command with as much irreverence as he can muster, diverting it to ends both more comic and more tragic.

Michael Duffy reviews Wiliam H. Gass‘s Eyes.

» Read more...