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

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.

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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.

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Enthusiasm published 23/12/2015


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.’

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


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

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


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.

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Chantal Akerman:Now published


A young woman, naked but for a pair of briefs, critically examines her image in a full-length mirror, noting what she considers her most pleasing features with approval and unsparingly enumerating the bits of her she doesn’t like so much. It’s funny, moving and definitely not erotic; the grimace with which she announces the results of her hypercritical self-study ‘I have hairs on my chin’ leaves little space for fantasy.

Bridget Penney reviews Chantal Akerman‘s posthumous exhibition ‘Now.’

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After something else: A review of Emblems of the Passing World by Adam Kirsch published 17/12/2015

Emblems of the Passing World

A given poem in Emblems is liable to be framed by a received idea, a distorting lens, a weak premise, the mustering of a detail that is not present, or some combination of the above. It doesn’t help that the verse lines and stanzas are also liable to be at some points over- and at some points under-wrought, even in the same piece.

Daniel Bosch reviews Emblems of the Passing World by Adam Kirsch.

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I can only speak for myself published 10/12/2015

Looking at Pictures

Alluding to the difficult interpolation of consumption and observation, Looking at Pictures draws attention to selfishness as a critical epithet central to our habits in the museum, suggesting that we design ourselves appropriately to the digestion of work – soft work rather than hard – that paints little beyond a picture of personality as reflected in the abstract objects of creative labour.

Dominic Jaeckle reviews Looking at Pictures by Robert Walser.

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A Book Review That is Not One: On Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts published 09/12/2015

The Argonauts made me think about the books that might be written if many scholars/writers were not bound by idiosyncratic and capricious so-called “standards” or genre conventions of scholarship and publication. I finished the last pages of the book wishing there were more books like this—which is admittedly an awkward thing to think in relation to a book that strikes one again and again as so excellently singular. Still, I found myself thinking about various writer/critic friends, thinking “so and so could write a great book like this!”—“like this” meaning the hybrid nature of autotheory that Nelson has mastered, but that we recognize in the works of Roland Barthes, Virginia Woolf, Susan Sontag, and somewhat rare others who occupy the bizarre canon of criticism.

By Christopher Schaberg.

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Eyes published 08/12/2015


As is custom for Gass, these fictions have exemplary sentences: long and short, full of metaphor, rich sound, syncopation, intelligence, gravity, and comedy — architectural wonders both intricate and unbridled as Gaudi’s buildings and grand and severe as Serra’s steel. They are treats both for the mind whose mouth speaks them aloud or the mind with an inner ear to the sound of thought philosophical, lyrical, and holy hewn. Sound before story? Guts before glory? Maybe, but in Gass the sound is the story. One leads the other like wind gusting up a kite, but the wind is also the story because it gives the tale good weight, though it can sometimes be invisible, just like Gass’s famed metaphor in a public debate with John Gardner about fiction as Gardner said, “…what I think is beautiful, he [Gass] would not yet think is sufficiently ornate. The difference is that my 707 will fly and his is too encrusted with gold to get off the ground,” to which Gass replied, “There is always that danger. But what I really want is to have it sit there solid as a rock and have everybody think it is flying.”

Greg Gerke reviews William H Gass‘s Eyes.

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