:: Reviews

The Complicit Reader: N. J. Campbell’s Found Audio published 05/07/2017

My reader’s copy of Found Audio has hot sauce splattered on its edgings. It’s been inked at the corners. Its cover is waterlogged. White innards poke through the cracked casing of its spine. These are the marks of having grappled with a novel, N. J. Campbell’s first, that stretches language, remakes structure, plots boldly, all while having its own peculiar kind of fun. What sets Campbell’s novel apart from most of its postmodern counterparts, though, is the scope of its metafictional component, which goes beyond the author’s merely entering the world of the book and interacting with its characters. Here, the reader is made just as integral to the story as the author himself. In doing so, Campbell casts new light not only on what makes something fiction, but on the role we as readers must play in it.

M. K. Rainey reviews Found Audio by N. J. Campbell.

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The Language Activism of ‘The Aleksandr Technique’ by Gareth Twose published 29/06/2017

The Language Activism of Gareth Twose’s ‘The Aleksandr Technique’

‘The Aleksandr Technique’ was inspired by email updates “written” by a toy meerkat during its shipping to the poet’s home. The meerkat in question, named Aleksandr Orlov, is a recurring persona deployed across media platforms by the car insurance company comparethemarket.com. As one of the company’s marketing tactics, a toy meerkat is sent to every customer that buys car insurance online. In response, Twose’s sequence cannibalises the affective appeal of the company’s gimmick – its ‘Aleksandr Technique’.

Dylan Williams on ‘The Aleksandr Technique’, from Sven Types of Terrorism by Gareth Twose.

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Trial of ____/: a review of Valerie Hsiung’s EFG published 28/06/2017

Review of EFG by Valerie Hsiung

EFG is divided into three sections, 1) Naturacide, 2) exchange following and gene flow, and 3) J’etais Enfant Jadis (I Was a Child Once). The vitalism blowing through a torn mother earth is inhaled in lines that act as both channels and chatter, whose tone is unredemptive. The emotion comes from its clamour. Voices clang and chime. Each section contains a violence both distinct from and in tune with the others, while nearly every poem has a detectable ventriloquism—dead or disembodied voices laid into each other, sometimes lyric, sometimes scavenged. Sometimes the voices feel pained, other times they kid.

Megan Jeanne Gette reviews EFG by Valerie Hsiung.

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On Taylor Larsen’s Stranger, Father, Beloved published 27/06/2017

What happens when a reader expects a novel to be one thing and it ends up being something else altogether? This is not an infrequent occurrence in my reading life. Perhaps I pay too much attention to jacket copy and blurbs. Or perhaps the fault lies with the capitalistic machinery that strives to recreate the last hit instead of organically producing a new one. Whatever the cause, it’s really not the author’s fault that the book she wrote isn’t the book you thought you were reading.

Drew Broussard reviews Stranger, Father, Beloved by Taylor Larsen.

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diverse tribes of urban identity – a review of Stephen Barber’s Berlin Bodies published 22/06/2017

Barber’s surrendering to these “seductive enticements” form some of the most striking passages in Berlin Bodies, whether relaying the silence and dusty redundancy of an abandoned train station, or recalling the bloody aftermath of a pitched battle between Nazis and Communists in the immediate wake of re-unification.

By John P. Houghton.

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Forging A Different Way Of Being – A Review Of Romina Paula’s August published 21/06/2017

It’s a case study in how a life unfolds only to collapse back in on itself, a ceaseless grappling with the choices one made and pondering the age old questions: Does love get you anywhere? Who are we once we’ve left everything we know behind? How do the ghosts of our loved ones go on living through the prism of our memories?

Rebecca Schuh reviews August by Romina Paula, trans. by Jennifer Croft.

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Song of Herself published 20/06/2017

In 2004, eighteen years after the death of Georgia O’Keeffe, The New York Times published an appraisal of her career with the title “A Major Minor Artist.” Though she has risen in esteem somewhat in the last decade, the title continues to reflect her reputation in art-critical circles. She’s never completely rinsed off the mud Clement Greenberg slung at her in the forties and fifties, in particular his charge that her delicate landscape paintings were “little more than tinted photography,” unfit to hang next to the formally daring work of Pollock and Rothko.

Jackson Arn reviews the Brooklyn Museum’s 2017 exhibition Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern.

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Épater La Bourgeoisie: Hanif Kureishi’s The Nothing published 13/06/2017

Review of Hanif Kureishi's The Nothing

A few overly literal critics have taken Waldo’s deliberately outrageous, lubricious musings at face value, lambasting Kureishi for presenting that bête noir of creative writing courses, the unsympathetic character. The “nothing” of the book’s title is clearly an allusion to the sixteenth-century slang for vagina (“No-thing”), as in Much Ado About Nothing. And while the explicitness of Waldo’s pronouncements is mostly predictably phallocentric (“He had an eager penis all his life”), some are comically poignant; reminiscences of an active amorous life that will never return.

Jude Cook reviews The Nothing by Hanif Kureishi.

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What Algorithms Want published 12/06/2017

The success of Trump in the USA was a Cow Clicker political success: no matter how dumb, nasty, inept and poorly designed, Trump understands where the new magic sources of power lie. It’s no accident that he tweets, cutting out the ‘normal channels’ of shared concern to ‘speak’ directly to the private space of (anti) social media. His genius has been to seduce and reach beyond both comprehension and knowledge, to harness some vast algorithmic political unknowability and ignorance. This is the new cultural landscape that Ed Finn’s timely and fascinating book investigates.

Richard Marshall reviews Ed Finn‘sWhat Algorithms Want.

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The border is the war: Chris Marker remembered published 08/06/2017

As much as Marker shunned publicity of any kind during his lifetime (1921-2012, remarking pointedly “My films are enough”), for Studio an array of selected photographs of his Paris workspace by Adam Bartos does the rest. Much continues to be made of Marker’s Pynchonesque reclusivity and refusal to discuss or engage with his past, which perhaps serves to underscore the premise behind Studio, Marker being that “obsessive agent of memory” according to writer and academic Stephen Barber.

Andrew Stevens reviews Studio: Remembering Chris Marker by Adam Bartos and Colin MacCabe.

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