:: Reviews

Democracy squared published 25/03/2016


What does Stavrides means by commons and commoning? Common space is not simply an indeterminacy floating between, or hovering Third Wayishly above, the polarities of private and public spaces. It is a porous medium, encouraging the flow of ideas and interactions over and through thresholds that less hospitable spaces would tightly demarcate and regulate. In one of the more lyrical passages of his argument, Stavrides evokes Walter Benjamin’s comparison of the porous stones of Naples to the openness of its architecture, with its encouragement of spontaneity and improvisation in the liminal space between the private home and public square.

John P. Houghton reviews Stavros Stavrides, Common Space: The City As Commons

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Review of Danielle Dutton’s Margaret the First published 15/03/2016

Writing a novel rather than straight biography gives Dutton the freedom to focus on the big, blazing moments of Margaret’s life, the interior world she inhabits as well as the external world in which she lived and produced her work, all interspersed with the domestic details that are the bread of life.

Sian Norris reviews Danielle Dutton‘s Margaret the First.

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You Could Do Something Amazing with Your Life published 14/03/2016

Hankinson has used these testimonies, together with previous diaries, police evidence, psychological statements and media reports to piece together a narrative written from as close as possible to Moat’s confused mind. As a true crime novel, it fits in with that rich troublesome tradition stretching back through In Cold Blood to the Newgate novels and the notorious recreations of Jack Shepherd’s career. But this book still feels singular in its insistence on the documentary record and on only showing events as Moat saw and understood them. Not least because Moat’s point of view is so at odds with reality.

Sam Jordison reviews Andrew Hankinson‘s You Could Do Something Amazing with Your Life [You Are Raoul Moat].

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The texts are mazes: A review of Among the Bieresch by Klaus Hoffer published 08/03/2016

The narrative of Among the Bieresch is driven by a relentless succession of engagements with increasingly eccentric characters – meetings that even Hans senses are being staged for his benefit. However, he is never certain if the speaker is intending to win his trust or set him up to fail. Each of these encounters proceeds with lessons, stories, warnings and accusations; but ideological conflicts, personal grudges, doubts and anxieties continually rise to the surface.

Joseph Schreiber reviews Among the Bieresch by Klaus Hoffer.

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I Hate the Internet published 28/02/2016


With the nasty-eyed sharpness of Swift, Burroughs or Houellebecq Kobek writes a tripwire just above the level for walking. Everyone falls down. It’s a satire about losing track of the world. How? It takes a swipe at those that suppose we’re tracking the world we’re in, rather than just the world. The result of that first-person engorgement is a fetishised digitalized idiocy exposed as a blank hate state, a bleak panorama of digitised repression balanced on the corrosive manipulative belief in a centred world. If Donald Trump is the personification of the centred-world, then Kobek’s satire can be directed towards him and all he stands for.

Richard Marshall reviews Jarett Kobek’s I Hate the Internet.

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Mescalin, mystics and madness published 27/02/2016

Aldous Huxley was a famous but unlikely crusader for psychedelic drugs and their mind-expanding capabilities. English, classically educated and the hard-thinking contemporary of T.S. Elliot and Bertrand Russell, his position as a precursor to Timothy Leary remains one of the most intriguing subplots of 1960s American counterculture. Unlike his friend D.H. Lawrence, for example, who voices his rebellions against mainstream culture angrily throughout his essays and fiction, Huxley writes with an objectivism and gentlemanly calm apparently at odds with his radical visions. Allene Symons’ Aldous Huxley’s Hands is part Huxley biography, part history of psychedelic science but also an attempt by a daughter to commemorate her father’s amateur scientific research into the physiognomy of hands.

By Guy Stevenson.

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Dodge Rose and the Concept of Difficult Literature published 22/02/2016

Rather, what makes Dodge Rose not only difficult but lushly, productively so—for this reader at least—is its sophisticated interrogation of the materiality of life and death. This perhaps sounds weightier than necessary; truthfully, I mean to say only that Cox’s novel compelled me to consider the thingness of life, and the dimensions, both comic and tragic, of our passing possession of it.

Dustin Illingworth reviews Dodge Rose by Jack Cox.

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Poor Quartets published 18/02/2016

Goethe Dies, a collection of short pieces initially published in German periodicals in the early 1980s, goes some way to frame its author’s relationship with the negative romance of a running order. Although pegged in a period pushed along by the booming influence of mass media, Thomas Bernhard’s insistence seems be constantly on looking backwards. For Bernhard, retrospection and nostalgia are tools to play with history – to upset the performance of culture’s chronology.

Dominic Jaeckle reviews Goethe Dies by Thomas Bernhard.

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Naoko Haruta and the Arboreal Imagination published 14/02/2016


It is a unique and bold venture, this series of Ms. Haruta, one which immanently employs and enjoins East and West and which surely places Ms. Haruta at the center of those brave contemporary spirits who refuse the self‐ deluded provisos to which art contemporaneity in practice and discourse gives itself in an epoch‐‐already unfolding sixty years ago‐‐of the total inundation of all forms and discourse in the modes of aesthetic modernityʹs conflicting and polyvalent projects of transgression, negation, disassemblage, zero degree reduction, purification, displacement, and preformed and postulated reversal, an epoch increasingly inimical to substantialist adventure and affection and for which substantialism, thereby, art contemporaneity has substituted the automatism of received and enacted gambits, gimmicks, prefabrications, and signals in a constant mens momentanea of indifferentiation and the arbitrary, i.e. Ryman, Richter, Reed, Guyton, Wools, Oehlen, Koether, etc. etc.

Steve Light on the Trees series of paintings by Naoko Haruta.

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‘Marooned at a tangent to the everyday’: Katrina Palmer’s The Necropolitan Line published 13/02/2016


An uncomfortable emotional charge is experienced by the would-be passenger alongside the realisation that sitting there, waiting for something that will never arrive, you are actually on the Necropolitan Line, journeying passively towards the time of your own death. In this frame of mind, the Platform Announcer’s murmur about proceeding towards the white light – the clear signal, as opposed to the danger signal – seems to suggest ‘near death’ narratives with their images of heading towards a bright light.

Bridget Penney on the installation by Katrina Palmer.

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