:: Reviews

Skimming off the top: A review of Grand Hotel Abyss by Stuart Jeffries published 07/03/2017

Review of Grand Hotel Abyss

Jeffries is certainly not interested in trying to be dialectical: any contradictions in someone’s thought are almost always described as paradoxes and are then left as irresolvable, or, more frequently, as veiled imputations of hypocrisy on their thinker’s behalf. The vexed question of the relationship between theory and praxis is reduced to theory as a retreat or withdrawal from life versus praxis as participation and action. Philosophers, in this account, are typically associated with their armchairs.

Andrew Key reviews Grand Hotel Abyss by Stuart Jeffries.

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Tripticks published 23/02/2017

It allows the traumas described by the album to seem objective, rather than just a subjective account of Edwards’ brilliant, overreaching mind. On The Holy Bible the relentless chronicling of modern-day evils becomes overpowering. Here the effect of the essay is – perhaps in tribute – similar. Yet, as an account of an artistic era, a description of a political context, and as an interpretation, Jones’ essay is validating. Its framework joined the dots of various concerns I have long had about the politics of the late twentieth century.

Guy Mankowski on a three-fold contemporary assessment of the Manics’ The Holy Bible.

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Mourn, and Organise! A review of Left-Wing Melancholia by Enzo Traverso published 09/02/2017

The symbolic shift wrought by the collapse of the Soviet Union, described by the Italian historian Enzo Traverso in his important new book Left-Wing Melancholia, threw the left into an existential crisis. Once characterised by the strength of its convictions, the left found itself submerged into a state of self-reflection and mourning – a state where, in the eyes of many, it still remains. Robbed of its telos, a clear endpoint, the left’s utopic imagination was emptied, hollowed out, and in its place there lingered only a sense of loss.

Samuel Earle reviews Left-Wing Melancholia by Enzo Traverso.

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Not Somewhere or Anywhere published 04/02/2017

The publication of Ottessa Moshfegh’s story collection, Homesick for Another World, does not so much allow us to measure the progress of this writer’s talent following on her first two published books, the novella McGlue and the novel Eileen, the latter of which in particular generated considerable enthusiasm among readers and critics and seemed to establish Moshfegh as a writer whose developing career warranted attention.

Daniel Green reviews Ottessa Moshfegh‘s Homesick for Another World.

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Young Girl Beautiful: A review of Surveys by Natasha Stagg published 02/02/2017

Natasha Stagg's Surveys

“Unpleasant but very funny” is perfect. The satire in Surveys is bone-dry; its best lines could cut cocaine. There is a Xanax-y workaday minimalism (we might call it “Mall of America Realism”) in its most straightforward passages, and there are moments where Stagg lets her feel for the poetry in the quotidian fly: as when Colleen describes “the high contrast of freckles to pale skin under cloudless white light, the slow drift of Arizona atmosphere”.

Philippa Snow reviews Surveys by Natasha Stagg.

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Unplugging the Gaps: Hitchcock and Madeleine E. published 25/01/2017

Vertigo is one of those especially sticky texts, the kind that magnetically compounds tremendous critical mass because it is such fertile soil for interpretation by dint of its imperfection. It has generated far more scholarship than, say, North by Northwest, which is in many aspects a much better film, I’m sure because Vertigo, with its plot riddled with holes and pivoting on several ridiculous coincidences, allows for more creative exegesis than a (more) straightforward, solid construction like North by Northwest. Precisely because it is so pockmarked with flaws, Vertigo is a text that gives the critic something to do.

Benjamin Hale reviews Madeleine E. by Gabriel Blackwell.

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A Realm of Possibilities: Best European Fiction 2017 Reviewed published 24/01/2017

What is offered by each of the best stories here concerns an unconditional disposition and capacity, which remains as central to any literary, ethical or political undertaking now as it was four years ago. It is honed and nurtured by pages of prose that arrest habitual disregard and judgement, drawing us into realms of life and ways of meaning that are foreign to us. Ann Cotten names it thus: “Ten multiple-choice questions stared back at me with small, expectant eyes, with delicate fake lashes. Each character was more beautiful than the next. But what did they mean? … Was it not much more important to know and love them each in their own right?”

Toby Bull reviews Best European Fiction 2017.

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Scotland Yardie published 20/01/2017

These are caricatures by dint of their very likeness, tautologies of themselves, buckled to the fast dialogue and tic tac caustic critique, working a humour pitched towards a knowing affection for its sources and illustrious originals whilst simultaneously pointing pointingly to their defects. Knowing the detectives and their shows you’re ready for the shoe-horned well-known premises, the outsider cop and his sidekick buddy and all that jazz where a fast and hilariously layered plot makes its contrivance answer all purposes and understand each swift visual interruption and eruption that the ‘Scotland Yardie’ graphic novel represents.

Richard Marshall reviews Bobby Joseph and Joseph Samuels’ Scotland Yardie graphic novel.

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Patricide: An American Mess published

At its best, Patricide is devastating, thanks to Foy’s hyper-detailed account of Pat as it follows him from a broken childhood through a debauched adolescence and concludes, in adulthood, with his search for understanding and forgiveness. Throughout, Foy wades through the complexities of a damaged life behind closed doors, siphoning out the marrow of these experiences beyond the margins that are so often not discussed and even actively forgotten.

Saxon Baird reviews Patricide by D. Foy.

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The Future Ain’t What it Used to Be published 18/01/2017

Modernity, in its glitz and horror, offers no redemption — just more of itself, clickbait and all. For reactionaries like Don Quijote, there is no way back. And few actually advocate turning back the clock, a fool’s errand not even Don Quijote, Knight of the Sorrowful Face, would undertake. They give themselves over to a nostalgic brand of hope the Portuguese call saudade, “a vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist”. Pining for what we don’t have or can’t be, reactionaries are each of us, despairing of a future that ain’t what it used to be.

Chris Kark reviews Mark Lilla‘s The Shipwrecked Mind: On Political Reaction.

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