:: Reviews

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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Dear Reader, I Spit On You – A Book and an Exhibition published 08/02/2016

Bukaka Spat Here

What is this? Is it a novel? Is it an anti-novel? Is it an anti-anti-novel? Is it a comic book about the exploits of an outrageous superhero – Bukaka? Is it a joke? It is perhaps all of these things and none. Brener/Schurz use the rubble of literature to further destroy capitalist power structures.

Steve Finbow reviews Bukaka Spat Here by Alexander Brener/Barbara Schurz.

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Tiny Adventures to Please Our Dirty Minds: A review of Sophia by Michael Bible published 02/02/2016

Sofia by Michael Bible

This novel likes to show a vicious love for its Great American Predecessors; refracted through Maloney’s hazy attention, and surrounded by hazier others, the narrative doesn’t care much for being impersonal, but you can trace the lineaments of a carelessly-disguised glee at starting a knife-fight in the hall of fame.

Cal Revely-Calder reviews Sophia: a novel by Michael Bible.

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Enthusiasm published 23/12/2015


He works in the limits of what he calls, as an abbreviation for the complexities, ‘enthusiasm.’ Of course there’s not a single proposition attached to that label. But it is something ‘not limited by anything & the imagination of flight is apparently a mild head cold to the viral germ warfare we ought suddenly employ when thinking about what we might do with our future time…’. That is the ultimate focus. No summarized norms, epistemic stances calibrated to measure the dreamed metaphysical ghouls, maybe even harness them, or drive a stake through to a heart, or a yacht to navigate territories. ‘Water/ doesn’t need a boat you arrogant fuck.

Richard Marshall reviews S.J. Fowler‘s ‘Enthusiasm.’

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“They can sag a little, can’t they?”: The extraordinary careers of two divas from Berlin published


As we read through Wieland’s thoroughly researched and riveting account of both women’s lives, we, the readers, become moral detectives.

Jenny McPhee reviews Karen Wieland‘s Dietrich & Riefenstahl

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Child’s Play: On William Gass’s Eyes published 22/12/2015


This playfulness is most clearly on display when Gass is exploring the life of things. “To the things themselves!” is, of course, an old philosophical injunction, the battle-cry of phenomenologists searching for a less critical, yet still concrete kind of truth in the lived experience of the world around us. But, never just a philosopher (though it has served as a distinguished career for him), Gass interprets this command with as much irreverence as he can muster, diverting it to ends both more comic and more tragic.

Michael Duffy reviews Wiliam H. Gass‘s Eyes.

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Chantal Akerman:Now published


A young woman, naked but for a pair of briefs, critically examines her image in a full-length mirror, noting what she considers her most pleasing features with approval and unsparingly enumerating the bits of her she doesn’t like so much. It’s funny, moving and definitely not erotic; the grimace with which she announces the results of her hypercritical self-study ‘I have hairs on my chin’ leaves little space for fantasy.

Bridget Penney reviews Chantal Akerman‘s posthumous exhibition ‘Now.’

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After something else: A review of Emblems of the Passing World by Adam Kirsch published 17/12/2015

Emblems of the Passing World

A given poem in Emblems is liable to be framed by a received idea, a distorting lens, a weak premise, the mustering of a detail that is not present, or some combination of the above. It doesn’t help that the verse lines and stanzas are also liable to be at some points over- and at some points under-wrought, even in the same piece.

Daniel Bosch reviews Emblems of the Passing World by Adam Kirsch.

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