:: Reviews

The Dream in the Machine: On Germán Sierra’s The Artifact published 16/01/2019

In addition to Borges, other influences can be detected in Sierra’s “theory-fiction.” As Dan Mellamphy writes in the book’s frontispiece, J.G. Ballard and Phillip K. Dick are both ghostly presences in Sierra’s prose. One might also mention in passing names like Conrad and Nabokov, authors who often burrow into the English language like viruses from the outside, weaponizing the “Imperium of Anglophony.” And yet, the elements which make The Artifact a “theory fiction” are also what make it a wholly original and idiosyncratic work, a blend of musings on science—biology, physics, computer science—along with an impressionistic montage of fictive tales.

Javier Padilla reviews The Artifact by Germán Sierra.

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Naming the Dead: Wang Bing’s Dead Souls published 10/01/2019

The question of how this process of naming and recalling of names fits with the wider questions of testimony and silence in Dead Souls is vital for understanding how to approach these events, of what it means to create an archive of such atrocious human actions. Testimony, silendce: the two are in continual contestation throughout Dead Souls and its understanding of the film as archive.

Daniel Fraser reviews Dead Souls.

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Walter Kempowski’s All for Nothing: An Unlikely Comedy Set in the Collapse of The Third Reich published 08/01/2019

All for Nothing by Walter Kempowski

A new edition from New York Review Books makes Anthea Bell’s translation of All for Nothing – the final novel by the acclaimed German writer Walter Kempowski – available to US readers. Can the book redeem the art of monsters? Or does it fall short?

Oscar Mardell reviews All for Nothing by Walter Kempowski.

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Flesh Objects: On John Trefry’s Apparitions of the Living published 07/01/2019

This novel’s not easy to describe / narratives are spectral / there is a man and a boy and a Connie / a body is broken down and reassembled / voices converse / “The rays stitch’d him into the shamble of hot black dust grinding, of an accumulation echo’d in dust prints.” / there is a motel / there is bricabrac / there is sand / there is cataplasm / but it’s hard to say what they are doing / what they have done / what they will do / the reader enters this space / engages the text / is pulled through each page / until the book is over /

Mike Corrao reviews Apparitions of the Living by John Trefry.

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The Destruction Myth: Jenny Hval’s ‘Paradise Rot’ published 18/12/2018

Paradise Rot review

Paradise Rot has an abundance of abandoned apples, half-eaten and rotting. Yellow Honeygolds: Carral is the snake, the apple is the warehouse inside Carral. Pink Ladies: flesh. Bloody Ploughmans: forbidden. Each apple is a story of transformation and becoming, of desire and sex/uality. (A four-breasted creature, Moon Lips, Emma.) Hval weaves and re-forms stories, mutilating them with a deep commitment to the senses and subjectivity.

Mollie Elizabeth Pyne reviews Paradise Rot by Jenny Hval.

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Til the Pigs Come Round published 30/11/2018

This is the blind spot in others that so infuriates Mickey once he realizes, as a young boy, that the meat In his food comes from slaughtered animals. Why can’t his peers also see this? Why are they so blind to the truth? As he grows older, the puzzlement and anger remain. ‘For his part, he wanted to know how anyone could claim to be a socialist and eat meat. What sort of liberal let piglets die because they enjoyed the taste of their bodies? Why would a conservative condone the cutting of a child’s throat? Where was the outrage of the religious leaders? All of these people peddled morality but refused to challenge the meat and dairy industries. He hated their dishonesty.’

Koushik Banerjea reviews John King‘s Slaughterhouse Prayer.

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The Universally Particular: An Essay Review of Alexander Chee’s How To Write An Autobiographical Novel published 26/11/2018

This is a personal essay disguised as a review. Alexander Chee’s How to Write an Autobiographical Novel is a novel disguised as an essay collection. These words are all a work of fiction, a critical imagining. Just a mask on top of another mask, as all literature is the exceeding of form, a manipulation of the general in order to give the particular. There is no fiction, there is no nonfiction. There is no one way to write, there is no universal experience. There is but art, Chee teaches us, art produced by the body which creates it, and the processes and experiences of that body which brings art into the world.

Marcos Gonsalez on How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee.

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A matter of light and death published 11/11/2018

In The Ongoing Moment, Geoff Dyer states, “In photography there is no meantime. There was just that moment and now there’s this moment and in between there is nothing. Photography, in a way, is the negation of chronology.” Three Nails, Four Wounds, accelerates time through memory, the “Photograph(s) may correspond to the intrusion, in our modern society, of an asymbolic Death, outside of religion, outside of ritual, a kind of abrupt dive into literal Death. Life / Death: the paradigm is reduced to a simple click, the one separating the initial pose from the final print” and the speed of the shutter becomes “an explicable nano-flash of consciousness that looks to us like a transition between two significant points of entry and exit, but is merely an accident in infinite nothing” as is life.

Steve Finbow on Hector Meinhof‘s Three Nails, Four Wounds.

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The Analysis of Melancholy published 06/11/2018

The essence of the book lies within its own existence, the heft of the ‘book thing’ is equivalent to the ideas held within. I would have been happy if Repeater Books had drip fed the reading public with four books of 200 pages over a period of time but they have published a monster upon which we can binge, within which we can wrestle with Marxism, accelerationism, jungle, the Cthulhu Mythos, late-stage capitalism, Batman, Acid Communism and a host of other issues relative to life, culture and politics in the 21st century. Sometimes, Fisher writes like Michael Bracewell shot through with Marx, like Roland Barthes listening to breakbeat hardcore, or like a radical Geoff Dyer infused with the complete works of H. P. Lovecraft rather than D. H. Lawrence.

Steve Finbow reviews Mark Fisher‘s posthumous collection, k-punk: The Collected and Unpublished Writings of Mark Fisher (2004 – 2016).

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Ghosts Embodied: The Visions of Amparo Davila published

The Houseguest by Amparo Dávila

All of Dávila’s stories can be read as arcs of disenchantment—her characters discover that their imagined freedoms are actually more suffocating forms of captivity.

Darren Huang reviews The Houseguest and Other Stories by Amparo Dávila.

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