:: Reviews

Writing Between Species: Yoko Tawada’s Memoirs of a Polar Bear published 16/05/2017

Memoirs of a Polar Bear review

Benjamin’s method of literal reading is, to my mind, precisely what we should bring to Yoko Tawada’s playful and fascinating new novel Memoirs of a Polar Bear. This is not just because the Japanese-German author is deeply indebted to Kafka, it is also because Memoirs of a Polar Bear is constructed out of three intergenerational polar bear-narrated fictions.

Dominic O’Key reviews Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Yoko Tawada, translated by Susan Bernofsky.

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Femicide Machine and The Iguana 43 published 14/05/2017

‘Borderization’, a Mexico where, ‘ … everything is becoming a border, a twilight zone in which anything can happen. A border that, in spite of the best efforts of civil society and institutions to find a dignified and viable means of coexistence, spreads like a scourge of crime, impunity, the loss of respect for life, the disappearance of persons as an industry of extermination… Empires – like nation-states – become decadent when they become unable to guarantee the integrity of their sovereignty and their territory. In recent years – due to ancestral inequality, the disaster of the globalised economy, the fall of the authoritarian presidency, the slow institution of a new political system of the drug trafficking boom, police and judicial corruption and the migration of workers – Mexico’s borders have suffered from a series of perverse effects that tie together a multi-faceted erosion of everything from the national contract to public security.’

Richard Marshall on Sergio González Rodríguez‘s The Iguala 43 and The Femicide Machine.

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Dread Town published 13/05/2017

In 1964, the Smethwick ward of Birmingham had been the site of a Conservative Party general election campaign associated with the slogan ‘If you want a nigger for a neighbour, vote Liberal or Labour’. The racially charged atmosphere prompted a visit to Smethwick the following year by civil rights activist and former Nation of Islam member, Malcolm X, just days before his assassination in New York. Before the decade’s close, in 1968, Enoch Powell delivered his ‘rivers of blood’ speech to the Birmingham Conservative Political Centre. In 1976, Eric Clapton had voiced his support for Powell’s anti-immigrant stance in a racist rant during a concert at the city’s Odeon theatre which catalysed the formation of the ‘Rock Against Racism’ movement.

Zaheer Kazmi on Sharon Duggal‘s The Handsworth Times.

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A Microreview of Nicole Walker’s Micrograms published 11/05/2017

Micrograms review

Microlove and micropain­: microthoughts cordoned in a yogurt brain. Microguilt over microgoats, the blood that blooms from a microthroat. Micromoons emitting microlight on a dented hood from a microbike.

Brenna Womer reviews Micrograms by Nicole Walker.

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Typewriters, Bombs, Jellyfish… and Women published 09/05/2017

Written in the wake of post-history and post-theory, McCarthy’s essays think through the ways—and this is going to sound very old-fashioned—we might re-inject meaning and a sense of shape to many of the movements and writers that postmodernism has written off. If catastrophic event-scenes like 9/11 reintroduced the Real into an intellectual landscape where it seemed to have been extinguished in the void of non-history, then the works of McCarthy and, though their lines of approach are various and toggle through various genres, Deborah Levy, McKenzie Wark, Will Self, and Rachel Kushner, do a strange turnabout, gazing back at the super-structures of Modernism—fragmentation, alienation, temporal dislocation—that the postmodernists thought they had ironized out of meaning.

Nicholas Rombes reviews Bombs, Typewriters, Jellyfish by Tom McCarthy.

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30 Observations published 08/05/2017

I’ve been interested in aphorisms for a long time, though I’ve struggled to actually write them myself.

Christopher Schaberg on Sarah Manguso‘s 300 Arguments.

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A World of Dreams Constrained: Leonora Carrington’s Down Below published 04/05/2017

Review of Leonora Carrington's Down Below

The text itself invites a tripartite reading as a lucid subjective account of mental breakdown, a work that stands in opposition to her other output, and a distinct apocryphal telling of a descent. It is the strength and strangeness of the book that Carrington offers little beyond the description of events and flashes of her thought processes.

Thogdin Ripley reviews Down Below by Leonora Carrington.

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Durga Chew-Bose’s taxonomy of self: A review of Too Much and Not the Mood published 25/04/2017

A review of Too Much and Not the Mood

Though Chew-Bose manages to make even watching a stranger’s window from a street corner sound like part of the glamour of the city, the aspect of New York that she presents as the most alluring is as a place that has provided fertile ground for the growth of her friendships with the women she’s met here.

Rebecca Schuh reviews Too Much and Not the Mood by Durga Chew-Bose.

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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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