:: Reviews

Angry People in Local Newspapers published 22/11/2016

It is easy to dismiss local news as irrelevant and outdated into today’s world of instant online, global communication; the preserve of headlines like ‘Old Mrs Miggins has a funny turn on the No. 30 bus’ and ‘Newsagent runs out of five pence pieces’. The Angry People in Local Newspapers blog, while celebrating the work of photographers, carries the implicit message that people pointing at potholes or performing petty acts of municipal revenge is all a bit sad and pointless.

John P. Houghton reviews The Mediated City.

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Death In Situ: Sifting Through Gabriele Tinti’s Last Words published 07/11/2016

Last Words by Gabriele Tinti

Research shows that 12-15% of those who commit suicide leave notes; Last Words offers a superficial glimpse of the phenomenon of suicide in light of the silent majority who did not leave notes. Yet the notes seem to be predicated on the belief of the ability of language to bear witness, and in this regard Last Words may be vitally instructive.

E.G. Cunningham reviews Last Words by Gabriele Tinti.

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Bye Bye Blondie published 31/10/2016

All I want is for some King Kong of a man to kill me, preferably after raping me like in a porn movie. ‘No wait,’ Virginie Despentes interrupted, ‘we’ve been there with Baise-moi, which American capitalist wankers marketed as Kiss Me. We need something new to get even with Michel Houellebecq and other alpha-male apes. Perhaps you, as a rebellious teenager, could blow up a bunch of middle-class losers using a TNT tampax?’ ‘You’ve been there too, with Apocalypse Baby,’ Gloria said, dragging on a super-powerful joint her disgusting angelic-looking boyfriend had proffered her.

Anna Aslanyan ‘reviews’ Virginie DespentesBye Bye Blondie.

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Dylan’s American Poetical Company published 26/10/2016

It strikes me that what is enjoyed in contemporary American poets is also what can be enjoyed in Dylan. If you can speak about technique, content, spirit, form, about whether the work is catching ‘the natural impression of any object or event,’ whether there’s ‘vividness,’ ‘imagination’, ‘passion’ and ‘a certain modulation of the voice, or sounds, expressing it’ which is what Hazlitt was asking from Coleridge, Wordsworth, Keats and the rest of the band back in his day, and if you can do so without it seeming not to fit, then I think you’re talking about a poet. If it looks, walks and quacks like a duck then its a duck.

Richard Marshall reviews Christopher Burt‘s The Poem Is You and Thinks Dylan’s In Good Company.

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Reality and Its Dreams published 22/10/2016

Internal criticism, for Geuss as for Adorno, is not typically ‘productive’ in offering a solution for the problems criticized. But here he also offers a second implicit response to the charge of bleakness in developing a philosophical account of ‘utopian thinking’, an imaginative activity that addresses discontents and persistent, unsatisfied desires in the present.

John Rapko reviews Raymond GeussReality and Its Dreams.

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‘The failure of so many urban utopias’ published 21/10/2016

The language of city living and the urban experience is everywhere around us, but beyond new development industry marketing speak, what do such terms actually mean? At the heart of the book is a story about the socio-economic and architectural transformation of one city over the past 40 years. That city is London, the author’s place of birth and current employment, and that story about the capital is detailed, engaging, witty, and occasionally angry.

John P. Houghton reviews Dejan Sudjic‘s The Language of Cities.

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Notes from the Enemy’s Camp: On John D’Agata’s New History of the Essay published 17/10/2016

Just what is an essay, then? D’Agata never really tells us. Or, rather, he does tell us, in 118 different riffs on his opening proposition that essays are “about human wondering.” The effect of following after D’Agata as he combs from scrap to definitional scrap is stunning. The essay is a vehicle for freethinking. It’s an experiment. It lacks confidence and brims with emotional doubt. It’s a transcript of its creator’s mind. It’s deeply deceptive, and might only reflect whomever the author wishes he were. It’s often written in the first person, or the third, but also the second, and sometimes smatterings of each. Essays are perception, indirection, failure, and experience; they’re human in their flirtation with the way things are and the way they might be.

Daegan Miller reviews A New History of the Essay by John D’Agata.

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No Way to Say Goodbye published 14/10/2016

Dead People is how I would want my own obituary to be handled, should I ever come to merit one: not solemn or dutiful, a dull rehearsal of milestones and setbacks, but something lively and curious, an all-night drunken wake, a celebration of whatever it was I managed to contribute to intellectual life during my brief stint among the living. When the needle drops on Beck’s Casio drone cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye” (thank me later), and the guests are swaying from side to side, and they’re lowering my casket into the earth or scattering my ashes to the four winds, I want some plucky young scribe in a garret to be writing about my life for a crushing deadline in just these terms.

Julian Hanna reviews Stefany Anne Golberg and Morgan Meis‘s Dead People.

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Queer as in Queering: a review of Communal Nude: Collected Essays by Robert Glück published 06/10/2016

Communal Nude

Brought to life as an appreciative yet critical reaction to the 60s and 70s avant-garde of the Language poets, Robert Glück’s and Bruce Boone’s New Narrative (a movement which also included Francesca Rosa, Kevin Killian, Sam D’Allesandro, Camille Roy, Dodie Bellamy, Mike Amnasan among others) assembled but also critiqued various experimental forms and techniques to a rather clear cut end – to ruin the locus, the ivory tower inhabited by a sole meaning-maker (the author) and replace it with a community of meaning-makers (the readers) who go beyond recognising themselves in a narrative and generate political and social change.

MH reviews Communal Nude by Robert Glück.

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The Empty Hourglass: Mike Kleine’s Cosmology in Kanley Stubrick published 22/09/2016

Kleine’s novella-in-verse achieves ephemeral constancy through the use of the fragment as a signal for filmic cuts. Part of the anchoring effect of Kanley is due to its treatment of both the continuous and the discontinuous: “This new and mysterious dream. / where / everything feels like it is burning” confronts the startlingly-contemporary observation “it’s like real lyfe”. Scenario, rather than plot, guides the movement of Stubrick.

E.G. Cunningham reviews Kanley Stubrick by Mike Kleine.

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