:: Reviews

Six Thoughts About Seed published 28/07/2021

Seed is delicate and exquisite, an extraordinary read. It asks questions inside each paragraph and sentence, within each blank space. It unpacks the very language in which it is written, as though its words were continually in movement. As I sit looking at the book, I plan to pass it on to my teenage daughters, wondering if they will find themselves turning inside.

Susanna Crossman reviews Joanna Walsh‘s Seed.

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Licorice published 27/07/2021

These labels that can inspire unwarranted fear, hatred, or indeed complete disregard all combine in Licorice’s own existence as it morphs from reality into one of myth, like the refugees. People confined not just to inhabit the various interstices that life throws up, but confined to become the interstice itself where even a birth name becomes forgotten. These interstices that are starkly imprisoning and divergent from the liberating interstice experienced by the reader when engaging with the art of this novel.

Jane Roberts reviews Bridget Penney‘s Licorice.

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The Netanyahus published 17/07/2021

The arguments amongst family members and madcap moments amid the domestic drama are brutally funny. For all his maximalist tendencies, Cohen has always had a knack for conversation amongst the quick-witted in close quarters: one ear for dialogue, the other for diatribe. As grotesque as some of the antics may be, these comedic nuggets are carbon-dated, sifted from the rubble of those novels that chronicled mid-century American Jewish life so well. They’d be too on the nose, no pun intended, if they didn’t work so well.

Ryan David Allen reviews Joshua Cohen‘s The Netanyahus.

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The Body is a Kind of Grammar published 12/07/2021

Preciado, keenly aware of this in comparisons with Ptolemy and Copernicus, speaks of a new language, of the potential of a reinvented mutant grammar. It may seem a weighty comparison to make to the Copernican shift away from geocentrism, but from a subjective position, the shift in understanding the body and its categories of gender is just as tectonic. The body demands a new comprehension, a language that reflects it. The body is a kind of grammar.

Joshua Calladine-Jones reviews Paul B. Preciado‘s newly published lecture Can The Monster Speak?

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Hurricane Season published 21/06/2021

There are chunks of white space throughout the book, enveloping the shorter snapshots of their lives. These found an echo in a coincidental viewing of John Carpenter’s The Thing, with its repeated and somewhat unusual freeze-framing before fading to black — both had the same feel for me: heavily pregnant dead space designed to sear what went before into your mind’s eye; a bubble of time around small but significant events. It’s in these shorter segments that Losack’s writing is at its most stripped back and carries the greatest weight.

Matt Neil Hill reviews Kelby Losack‘s Hurricane Season.

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Yes Yes More More published 30/05/2021

“Fiction has a new star in its firmament” gushes Carol Ann Duffy on the cover of Yes Yes More More. And for once, such praise is substantial — and deserved. There is indeed something glistering, hard-edged and remote about these stories; but they hold, too, a woozy wonder, a sense of dream-like possibility. After all, we prod the night sky with telescopes and satellites. But our first response is perhaps the most honest: to lie back, to stare.

Alex Diggins reviews Anna Wood‘s Yes Yes More More.

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Kong’s Finest Hour published 25/05/2021

From the title onward, the book is haunted by the famous shot of King Kong poised over the New York skyline, woman in hand: homo sapiens suddenly confronted with the life form it thought it had moved past. It’s about evolution, but it doesn’t crow about the way things are now or write off the past as an antiquarian matter. Instead, Kluge is interested in vestiges, anachronisms, historical blind alleys, and futures that never were.

Jim Henderson reviews Alexander Kluge‘s Kong’s Finest Hour.

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That Deep Kind of Talk published 24/05/2021

Like Cusk’s Outline trilogy, there isn’t much in the way of plot but there is a lot of storytelling, the principal storytellers being M and, to a lesser degree, L, who periodically exchange personal histories. But the novel’s ‘real time’ events are, mostly, small-scale, repetitive and domestic, depending for their significance on M’s interpretation of them. From the very first page, which describes, matter-of-factly, her having seen ‘the devil’ on a train home from Paris, we are alerted to M’s metaphysical frame of mind, and left wondering whether, all along, she is reading too much into everything. To keep us on our toes, Cusk sprinkles in clues that it isn’t pure psychodrama, such as Kurt’s warning that L ‘says he intends to destroy you’.

Sam Burt reviews Rachel Cusk‘s Second Place.

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Real Estate published 11/05/2021

How do we build a meaningful life on our own terms, asks this invigorating, open-hearted memoir. Once women have avoided being reduced to real estate ourselves, how do we claim rooms of our own? How do we make a home that provides both freedom and security, that nurtures but doesn’t stifle? Does this entail sharing one’s life, as her best male friend insists? If so, are we prepared to compromise, or would we prefer absolute liberty, accepting the solitude that brings?

Madeleine Feeny reviews Deborah Levy‘s Real Estate.

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Successive Spurts of Sapient Seed published 07/05/2021

Meades, recalling an interview with Anthony Burgess, gives us a quote with which it is appropriate to end our random reconnaissance. He describes him as an ‘ambulatory encyclopaedia’, who suffered from the ‘all-too-English disease of being too clever by half’ and reminds us that this is ‘rather better than being moronic, but there is this English prejudice against cleverness’. It exemplifies why Meades, like another in his pantheon of heroes, the Sixties novelist Robin Cook (aka noir novelist Derek Raymond who would, like his admirer, eventually leave Britain and become domiciled in France), is not a popular pundit or household name in his native land — he doesn’t easily fit into any establishment. He’s not clubbable. He’s too perceptive. And, as this anthology shows, he’s still fired-up, on form, and as fertile as ever.

Nicky Charlish reviews Pedro and Ricky Come Again by Jonathan Meades.

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