:: Nonfiction archive ( click for articles pre-2006) 2000-2005, click for articles pre-2006)

“I was on my way to look out for a life of my own”: On Peter Weiss’s Leavetaking published 05/08/2014

Lacking typographical breaks or dialogue, Leavetaking reads as continuous, even imposing, 125-page block of subjectivity that the reader is asked to patiently parse through, never quite sure what is waiting at the end. It is as pure a work a stream of consciousness as one could imagine. Shifting seamlessly between past and present in tense and chronology, the otherwise mundane events of this life become more difficult to follow. With concentrated effort, the reader can forge through this rough plot from the outpouring of memory and emotion.

Jennifer Kurdyla on Peter Weiss‘s Leavetaking.

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Romance Cannot Write Itself published 04/08/2014

A seducer is always, either: (i) convinced that he is a romancer (until the seduction is over), or (ii) perfectly clear about the fact that his rôle is a rôle, his task is a task. (Don Juan – like Judas – can only betray with a kiss.)

A philosophical demonstration by David van Dusen.

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The Day I Joined The Slits published 03/08/2014

Walking into the rehearsal studio I was met by Dick O’Dell, a tall man dressed in black, short blonde hair and mixamatosis eyes. He seemed friendly enough and introduced me to the band. Slumped in a corner was Tessa the bassist, all black curls and low-hanging fringe. Directly in front of me was Ari, freckled toffee-coloured skin, piercing blue eyes and a wide-toothy smile. She never kept still, bouncing around the room, talking ten to the dozen, half rapping, half chanting, blurting out an ad-hoc repertoire of statements and demands. To me, still the suburban kid, she was a whirlwind, exotic, unfathomable, unlike any girl I had met before. Her dreadlocks tied in a thick wrap of material, she seemed to have arrived from another planet, far bigger than the one I lived on.

By Simon Fellowes.

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Not Forgotten published 30/07/2014

Cooper is known for his detached accounts in poetry and prose of bloody death and adolescent anguish. Such concerns and his treatments of underage sex, adolescent drug-use, porn, and paedophilia in his five-book series called the George Miles cycle, earned his work the somewhat dubious status of “transgressive writing,” a term which would also be applied to writers like Kathy Acker and Bret Easton Ellis. This afternoon, I’ve made an appointment at the Fales Library to view Cooper’s so-called “Death and Sex” scrapbooks: a collage of clippings hundreds of pages long, compiled by the author during the 1980s which, I hope, will shed some light on the troubling intersection of the macabre and erotic that characterises his work.

Diarmuid Hester digs deep into Dennis Cooper‘s scrapbooks.

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Amnesia: Spain, Sand Creek, Oklahoma, Germany published 19/07/2014

Founding amnesia about extermination weighs heavily on Denver. The University of Denver still lionizes Evans. Evans was a visionary for the city, for railways and for founding universities – for white people. Being an Evans professor is a little, I have discovered, like being a Jefferson Davis professor at a Southern University; these men do not deserve the honor.

Alan Gilbert on how historical amnesia distorts.

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A Life in the Life published 12/07/2014

He knows that many of the crowd watching him are re-living their youth. Would it be so easy for them to do so if confronted with a silver-haired troubadour long past the age of 64? For some of his contemporaries such youthful pretence is no longer an issue: Bob Dylan sports a pompadour of grey cumuli, Jimmy Page, a raffish mane of white. James Taylor meanwhile is defiantly bald on top and has been for some time. But there are more who resist: Mick Fleetwood, Paul Simon, the Edge, none of whom are ever seen out of doors without headgear. Jeff Beck, who I recently spotted in my local branch of Planet Organic, also resists the Hi Ho Silver Lining. Like them, McCartney tenaciously holds onto his youth, no doubt to please please those who love him yeah yeah yeah.

Coinciding with Richard Lester’s seminal A Hard Day’s Night being re-released for its 50th anniversary, Simon Fellowes thinks back to seeing The Beatles aged four.

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The Unfortunate (or: Watching Dimitar Berbatov) published 05/07/2014

Like the reverse fixture, I somehow know the ending from the start, and expecting another goalless draw, I should be interested in how our new striker Luciano Becchio does, but I focus on Fulham’s Dimitar Berbatov, my favourite Premier League player, his style so idiosyncratic that no manager can quite fit him into a team, but capable of the most incredible skill, like that moment for Manchester United where he chases an over-hit pass, steps on the ball, turns, flicks it past West Ham’s defender and crosses for Ronaldo to score. He reminds me of Buster Keaton, his face as deadpan as Keaton’s when his house fell around him, with the same ability to see some audacious trick to change a situation and the same contortionist skills to make it work.

By Juliet Jacques.

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Georges Perec’s Je me souviens: a participatory text published 02/07/2014

Perec’s sense of disappearing human experience is wrapped up both in the socio-cultural sum, and the fleeting, individual, personal human interactions that punctuate the quotidian drift. Shared jokes, schoolyard games, a meal prepared by an aunt. His texts predicate on, he writes, the “overlooked commonplace” that is always in the process of evaporating; the very things that reassure us we are living.

Andrew Hodgson opens Georges Perec’s Je me souviens.

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What’s Wrong with Paul Krugman’s Philosophy of Economics? published 26/06/2014

The trouble is that Krugman’s recipe for how economics at its best is done undermines his substantive economic arguments. It’s just what is needed by those who reject his economic analysis and the policies based on it. Chicago school “extremists,” freshwater ideologues, and other free-market fundamentalists can help themselves to Krugman’s methodology to defend the very views he rejects. This raises the question of whether Krugman should worry more about the right way to do economics?

Alex Rosenberg on why Paul Krugman needs to be more philosophical.

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Vincent Harding Remembered published 24/06/2014

But even Vincent, far along the road into the mountains of the spirit compared to many of us (to me anyway), had some deep struggles. Vincent had long thought that the state assassinated King (he was no enthusiast for LBJ…) a year to the day after that speech was given (the King family also does not believe that James Earl Ray was the killer…). And he had a long ordeal over the fact that King had spoken words, many of which Vincent had written, which had led to his death. Vincent wrestled with this spiritual connection and though he made peace with it, though it had quieted in his heart and spirit, though he was a man without bitterness or self-wounding, it seemed to me still to remain there as a presence later on.

Alan Gilbert on Vincent Harding.

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