:: Reviews

How Wonderfully Shall Their Wordes Pearce Into Inward Human Partes: The new visual rhetoric of literature & Hunchback ‘88 published 30/10/2018

My interest is not in the manner Hunchback ’88 skillfully juxtaposes Booth’s model of rhetoric with the visual rhetoric of film, but how it abandons the traditional rhetoric of literature for a visual rhetoric that would be impossible without movies, yet is only possible back in the form of literature.

John Trefry reviews Hunchback ‘88 by Christopher Norris.

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“Killers and killed all”: Luis Felipe Fabre’s Sor Juana y otros monstruos published 29/10/2018

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz died in 1695 but has had endless potential for reanimation. To her contemporaries, she was the mysterious nun who wrote impenetrable poetry and searing critiques of the church for its treatment of women’s education. In the preface to one of her works, the monk Pedro del Santísimo Sacramento dubbed Sor Juana a “Monstruo de las mujeres y prodigio mexicano” (“Monster among women and Mexican prodigy”). To readers today, she is Sor Juana, “Fénix de América,” “Musa Décima,” the proto-feminist, Baroque poetess of colonial Mexico — in short, an all-around Latin-American legend.

By Rivky Mondal.

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“It’s Alive!” Theory and Terror in Cinema in the Digital Age published 15/10/2018

The power and charm of Cinema in the Digital Age lies precisely in its commitment to the idea that how a concept is constructed has deep implications for the concept itself. The manipulation of images made possible by digital media—pausing, reversing, enlarging, etc.—has enabled metric-driven, quantitative modes of analysis (Rombes cites studies of Average Shot Length and such entities as the Cinemetrics Database) which, while valuable in themselves, have meant a corresponding shift in the status of language as theory’s primary vehicle. Film theory, though “freed from the tyranny of language,” has perhaps “lost something as well.” It is Rombes’ project, in this sly index-cum-codex, to write through this loss: to see what can still be done with language as carrier of concepts. To this end, Rombes, self-consciously constructs a book of theory that can be skipped, skimmed, flipped through, doubled-back on, and opened at random without loss of sense. It can do this because of its style, because of the way Rombes writes it, for the non-linear, non-cumulative, fragmented prose blocks that nonetheless trace larger, unobvious lines of connection.

Ali Raz reviews Cinema in the Digital Age by Nicholas Rombes.

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Stewart Home’s Bruceploitation Groove published 13/10/2018

If you look carefully there’s something about all of Home’s work that remains consistent. He’s interested in forms of cultural work that is marginal but marginal for a reason. It’s often a sleazy, porny, low-brow sentimentalism he develops and pivots off, one that appeals to clear-cut psychological gratifications rather than sly rational evidence for whatever. He doesn’t waste time on normative theory for consumption by bourgeoise academics and vanguardists of both left and right. He is trying to work out and understand the mechanisms by which Marxist psychology and epistemology works which entails in part understanding better the Marxist theory of ideology.

Richard Marshall reviews Stewart Home‘s new book on Bruceploitation.

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Every Thing Belongs to Someone published 10/10/2018

There are ways of making something or someone feel alive that have nothing to do with movement, Dellolio might reduce a scene to a still, but it is through his sensorial description of atmosphere that he makes the reader experience living with things. He resembles Michael Snow in so far that he applies the tradition of photography, in which the focus of the attention is on scrutinizing the still image, to poetry. Yet, unlike photography, the elements in a room can be felt, smelt, heard, and even tasted, through description.

Elisa Taber reviews A Box of Crazy Toys by Peter Dellolio.

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The Worst of Architects: Reconsidering Borges’ “Library of Babel” published 08/10/2018

The honeycomb is a central motif in Tar for Mortar: “The Library of Babel” and the Dream of Totality, Jonathan Basile’s thought-provoking new meditation on the classic Borges short story, wherein endlessly repeating hexagons constitute the basic architectural units of a universal library, the cells in which all possible books are shelved—including this one. Products of pure permutation, articulated in the abstract logic of formal systems in which the names of things are arbitrarily assigned, these books are “a reminder of the indifference of all expression” to such quaint priorities as personal intention or private meaning: a kind of blasphemy aimed at a gospel of originality that prefers the worst of architects to the best of bees. “It was self-evident to the librarians in the Library of Babel,” writes Basile, “that they could never create an original work; instead they hoped to discover the truth in the prefabricated texts they considered divine.”

Daniel Elkind reviews Tar for Mortar: “The Library of Babel” and the Dream of Totality by Jonathan Basile.

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An indexical introduction to The Town by Shaun Prescott published 27/09/2018

Review of The Town by Shaun Prescott

In a disappearing town in regional Australia I sit reading a newspaper. I sit on an uneven metal chair at an uneven metal table at the front of the town’s only bakery. A hot wind blows off the dry plains surrounding the town and I fight to fold my unruly newspaper down to a manageable size.

Julian R Murphy reviews The Town by Shaun Prescott.

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Hysterical Realism: A review of Perfidious Albion by Sam Byers published 21/09/2018

Perfidious Albion review

Perfidious Albion, the second novel from Sam Byers, is hysterical fiction for this truly hysterical age—where the exhaustion and overworking of the conventions of realism now form a key part of realism’s very definition. The novel is set in the fictional town of Edmundsbury, notable only for the fact that it is not London, amidst a post-Brexit climate that looks a lot like the pre-Brexit one. Far-right populist parties are a key part of mainstream cultural discourse, further-right skinheads are a visible presence on the streets, and large corporations spread their insidious tentacles into the very fabric of society, willing to strangle any would-be resisters still naïve enough to think the hatchet of personal protest will be enough to ward off the suckers. Edmundsbury might be an imaginary setting within a speculative future, but you would be hard pressed to realise it.

Jon Doyle reviews by Perfidious Albion by Sam Byers.

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If Monet Wrote a Punk Memoir published 17/09/2018

What the reader expects is hardly the point, and Hopper knows it. She presents the book without apology; even in her “this is memory, not perfection, and names may be changed” disclaimer, she makes a joke about drugs. And good for her. Although the book is meant to be taken seriously (as all good writing ought to be, no matter its provenance or subject matter), nothing in it is solemn. It depicts fun without frippery: a number of years of a life spent in pursuit of good experiences.

Katharine Coldiron reviews Night Moves by Jessica Hopper.

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New Poets of Native Nations and the Hybridized American Identity published 05/09/2018

New Poets of Native Nations is an ambitious project designed to bring together voices of poets who published their first book in the twenty-first century. As editor, Erdrich makes clear the intention to showcase work that confronts contemporary society. In her introduction, she states, “my criterion that a poet have a clear connection to a Native nation has nothing to do with blood quantum,” eschewing the legal metric by which the US federal government determines Native nation citizenship. Rather, most of the contributors to the anthology are “multiracial” and that “not one of them identifies as ‘Native American’ alone.” This fact makes the anthology a unique primary source for understanding the complexities, and beauty, of hybrid identity and culture.

Gabriel Boudali reviews New Poets of Native Nations edited by Heid E. Erdrich.

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