:: Reviews

Utopia for Realists and The Radical Incrementalist published 19/04/2017

To illustrate the latter, we have this tired old trope: “Voters swing back and forth not because the parties are so different, but because it’s barely possible to tell them apart”. I worry for the eyesight and political sensibility of anyone who cannot distinguish Corbyn’s Labour from May’s Conservatives, or Clinton’s Democrats from Trump’s Republicans.

John P. Houghton reviews two very different manifestos for the future.

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False Starts: On Patty Yumi Cottrell’s Sorry to Disrupt the Peace published 17/04/2017

The most captivating thing in this book is Helen’s bizarre mannerisms: her instinct to laugh unapologetically during the novel’s more somber moments, her ability to say the exact wrong thing in every situation, or the imaginary “European Man” she sees floating in the ambience of her most emotional moments. Just what exactly is up with her?

M.K. Rainey reviews Sorry to Disturb the Peace by Patty Yumi Cottrell.

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Team-Building published 14/04/2017

Daniel Magariel’s accomplished debut novel begins with two boys – the narrator and his brother – conspiring with their father to shop their mother to social services with fabricated allegations of physical and sexual violence. The father wins custody and the three of them start a new life together in New Mexico. Though the brothers are well aware of his eccentricity – they joke about him behind his back, mocking the solemn machismo of his corny pep-talks – they are nevertheless hopelessly in his thrall.

Houman Barekat reviews One of the Boys by Daniel Magariel.

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In umbra voluptatis lusi: A Review of A Terrace in Rome by Pascal Quignard published 06/04/2017

A Terrace in Rome review

True, it is not easy to describe what is so enjoyable and compelling about Quignard’s books. A rewarding exercise, however, awaits those who have the patience to slowly absorb his erudite though disjointed writings. His fragmented style has the ability to unveil our own vague meditations on subjects that have been lingering, unfocused, in the back of our minds.

Melissa Beck reviews A Terrace in Rome by Pascal Quignard.

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Elegy for a Hillbilly Marriage: A Review of The Sarah Book by Scott McClanahan published 04/04/2017

This is McClanahan’s seventh book in nine years. He has said The Sarah Book took five years to write. This isn’t surprising. To write honestly of a failed marriage requires some perspective. To write of it successfully requires some healing. You can feel the healing taking place on the pages.

Mike Murphy reviews The Sarah Book by Scott McClanahan.

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Who will save us now? A review of Holy Nowhere by Nick Power published 28/03/2017

With its northern settings and cast of working class characters whose tough lives are illuminated by pitch black humour and affectionate piss-taking, Holy Nowhere has the quality of a good Ken Loach film, full of moments that make you believe the world might not actually be as bad as it seems.

Matthew Boswell reviews Holy Nowhere by Nick Power.

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Duncan Barlow’s The City, Awake: A Noir Palimpsest published 27/03/2017

Over the noir genre’s paradigm of predictable violence and inscrutable crime, Barlow superimposes a set of characters who seem equipped with experiential knowledge yet who are unable to deduce, a posteriori, the cause and origin of what they know and feel; they are left to determine their life’s purpose solely from untethered instinct. Is this, though, so far from the general human predicament?

Brian Birnbaum reviews The City, Awake by Duncan Barlow.

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Irregular tales: A review of Attrib. and other stories by Eley Williams published 16/03/2017

Attrib. and other stories - Review

Williams’ USP (even, at times, brilliance), is to drop us in on lives at seemingly innocuous moments—and then wrong-foot the reader, contort the unfolding story, and ultimately distil something elemental from the seemingly banal.

Tamim Sadikali review Attrib. and other stories by Eley Williams.

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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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