:: Reviews

City in Retrograde: Louis Armand’s GlassHouse published 19/08/2019

GlassHouse moves quickly. The perspective changes frequently, every one to seven pages. The style and format of the writing often shifts as well. Characters act independently, slipping away from the greater narrative. They go about their business, they ignore strange noises, they consider future plans. The various threads of Armand’s novel do not function to further the plot. Instead, they act as images to be incorporated into a greater collage, playing roles that may be minor but important in further understanding the events and figures surrounding the murder, or if not the murder, the afternoon that it happened.

Mike Corrao reviews GlassHouse by Louis Armand.

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dora maar published 08/08/2019

Though sidestepping the laddish puns of her male peers, her photomontages are suitably placed in the veiled-erotic, Freudian hinterland of the surrealist imagination. She provokes the thought of a finger pressing into the libidinous wetness of a mollusc curled inside its shell in Untitled (hand and shell) (1934), while in Forbidden Games (1935) a curious child peers from under a desk as a melancholy figure grips a man between her thighs and rides him around the parlour.

Hailey Maxwell reviews Dora Maar.

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The Albion Plan: Boris, Farage and the pure ethno-state published 04/08/2019

Set just after the Tory victory in 2015, the novel’s main protagonist is Tom, a Blairite policy wonk who gets sucked into a much more radical queer world view via chemsex orgies and his infatuation with Otto, a German anarchist: “The more sex he had, the more distant he felt from the Party – from his side of the Party, from the centrist daddies… the closer he felt to the boys, to the binmen, to the shifting lights at night.” The resulting novel is a curious mix of love story, political satire and deranged sexual rampage. In places it’s also a very, very funny, particularly when sending up Tom’s complacent “centrist” position via his idealisation of mediocre politicians Liz Kendall: “a magnificent spectacle of patriotic British womanhood, legs wide apart as she stood in front of a Chieftain tank.”

James Miller reviews Red Tory: My Corbyn Chemsex Hell.

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An Unserious Man published 15/07/2019

Available for the first time in English, in an elegant translation by the Romania-based Irish writer Philip Ó Ceallaigh, Women has the Old-World sophistication of a film by Lubitsch or Olphüls. Like these directors, whose comedies of manners respond to the hardships they experienced as Jews forced to flee fascism, Sebastian would suffer also for his Jewishness—an identity almost entirely obscured in this, his second novel.

Dorian Stuber reviews Women by Mihail Sebastian.

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Word on the street: landscape and voice in David Wojnarowicz’s The Waterfront Journals published 11/07/2019

Born almost exactly a century apart, Rimbaud and Wojnarowicz shared many commonalities: absent fathers (Wojnarowicz’s, when around, was also brutally violent) and difficult, unaffectionate mothers; both were gay – “my queerness,” the latter once wrote, “was a wedge that was slowly separating me from a sick society”; both set themselves apart, physically and spiritually, from the prescribed, conventional worlds around them; and both sought to embrace and subvert their outsider status through language and alternative lifestyles – even through suffering. Strangest of all, perhaps, is that both would die aged thirty-seven. Like Rimbaud, whose first major physical expression of his alienation came with a penniless bolt to Paris aged fifteen, Wojnarowicz’s severance from the structures and environments of “normal” life began early.

Tim Cooke reviews David Wojnarowicz‘s The Waterfront Journals.

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Story-Strolling through Dubai published 08/07/2019

Saeed, a young Emirati man in his late thirties, is back to his hometown, Dubai, after long years of education and work in London. His city draws him back, like an old friend, and in it he finds himself seeking the next step in life: to get married and settle, dropping any ideals that might stand as hurdles in the way of his main objective. A little less idealistic and a lot more practical, Saeed is nevertheless the same friendly, humble, open-minded intellectual he was in London — only this time seeking adventure in his newly-discovered old life.

Roula-Maria Dib reviews Omar Sabbagh‘s Minutes From the Miracle City.

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Fabricated Terrains published

An Interface for a Fractal Landscape is both the title and the central machine in Ed Steck’s new book of poetry. “A fractal landscape is composed of an infinite arrangement of triangles forming a recursive spiraling loop” is the first line, reflecting the vivid yet vexing terrain of the litany which follows. The landscape itself is a result of a post-Anthropocene world where the physical has deteriorated, leaving behind an abundant repository of human memory. Memory then becomes the source of tactile information as the interface unfurls its virtual reconstruction of organic life. The resulting nature is squishy, lithe, yet detached. It is a squishiness that is somehow plangent and hollow, where one steps in the mud to find an echo closer to walking on linoleum.

Victoria Nebolsin reviews An Interface for a Fractal Landscape by Ed Steck.

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TextTextTextTextTextText…Reference…TextTextTextTextTextTextText published 02/07/2019

With so much text floating around – a rebus for air – how does one assign value to pieces of it?

Text, in the internet’s fractal of Typhon heads, is only assigned value when it’s in reference to text bigger than itself; when it snaps on a celebrity, claps back at the president, big-ups some TV show, and distracts from the fact that it doesn’t really matter.

Text is a void until reference makes it an entity.
Mike Corrao understands this.
Text is a void until reference makes it a body.

Bryce Jones reviews Gut Text by Mike Corrao.

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Being Through Time: Ron Padgett’s Big Cabin published 01/07/2019

Just as moods and opinions waver while the self maintains a fundamental cohesiveness, the essay and poems contained in Big Cabin shift rapidly, often from line-to-line, in perspective and tone, while thematically complimenting each other. Ever the Gemini, Padgett’s poems range from punch-line poems, which would not be out-of-place in a Playboy joke book, to Zen mindfulness in the vein of William Carlos Williams. While individual poems may certainly be read and appreciated isolated from the entirety of collection, they are best examined within the context of the greater whole. Although it is not explicitly stated, the poems seem to be ordered in accordance with when they were written, or at the very least, with a shift in theme from a general preoccupation with the coexistence of past and present, to a concern with relieving himself from his reflections so he may be present with his surroundings.

Katherine Beaman reviews Big Cabin by Ron Padgett.

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To Situate the Otherworldly Concretely in the World published 27/06/2019

What might we be expected to make of a book of manic passages and dangerous incantations—a book which eschews the oppressive conventions of traditional literary criticism in order to convey something new; something venomously dark and unsettling? Quite simply, Jason Bahbak Mohaghegh’s Onmicide: Mania, Fatality, and the Future-In-Delirium is not only a book about the killing of everything, but more importantly, it is “nothing less than a catalogue of insane reinventions of subjectivity in an always already insane world…”. Most disconcertingly, Mohaghegh’s Omnicide lures the reader into contemplating the terrifying idea that perhaps all of modern society’s cultural and socio-scientific modes of organization (taxonomies, typologies, symptomatologies) might themselves be emanations from the cauldron of mania.

Javier Padilla reviews Omnicide by Jason Bahbak Mohaghegh.

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