Tag Archives: 21st Century

Privileges of Fiction (Rita Felski, Theory Without a Capital T)

Rita Felski’s The Limits of Critique, like her Uses of Literature, is admirably clear and accessible but the former is aimed primarily at an academic audience. I don’t have, nor wish to acquire an insider’s perspective of recent debates in American academic cliques about … Continue reading

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We shortchange the significance of art by focusing on the “de” prefix (its power to demystify, destabilise, denaturalise) at the expense of the “re” prefix: its ability to recontexualise, reconfigure, or recharge perception. Works of art do not only subvert … Continue reading

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Jessa Crispin’s The Dead Ladies Project

Somewhere around St. Petersburg and W. Somerset Maugham, it became clear that The Dead Ladies Project isn’t to be shoehorned into any of the recognisable classifications that exist for contemporary memoirs. Superficially, The Dead Ladies Project is a meandering meditation about a Grand Journey … Continue reading

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Drowsy Rambling about Kundera and Adorno

It might be that Milan Kundera’s Testaments Betrayed: An Essay in Nine Parts is one of the best books I have read on the art of the novel. I pause at the word “read,” which feels inadequate because I immerse … Continue reading

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Tomas Espedal’s Against Nature, Against Art

Tomas Espedal’s Against Art and Against Nature are exquisite, as good as anything I’ve ever read. Our modern preoccupation with, and anxiety about, intimate interpersonal relationships comes through in the precarious and peevish relationships between the narrator and his wives, girlfriends and children. … Continue reading

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Tomas Espedal’s Tramp

Reading Tomas Espedal, Tramp (Or The Art of Living a Wild and Poetic Life), always a heartbeat away from stuffing a few items into my worn leather backpack and sneaking silently towards the coast. Feeling the urge to sleep in unfamiliar hotel … Continue reading

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Houellebecq Strikes a Pose

In the latest issue of The Quarterly Conversation, Adrian Nathan West captures my  sentiment in the immediate aftermath of reading Michel Houellebecq’s Submission: The worst fate a writer can suffer is to become a “writer”: for ease to eclipse inspiration, … Continue reading

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American Immigration

We’re building in precisely the same way in the country as we build in the cities, and our first glimpse of a rural community is like the first glimpse of any suburb: a petrol station, a shopping centre. American villas, … Continue reading

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Catherine Clément’s The Call of the Trance

It isn’t easy to imagine the audience Seagull Books had in mind for Catherine Clément’s The Call of the Trance, insufficiently comprehensive for anthropology or psychology students though of some interest to both. Perhaps they were thinking of readers of boundless curiosity … Continue reading

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The Impossibility of Connection

On another day I’ll read László Krasznahorkai’s Seiobo There Below hungrily. After an intensely beautiful first chapter, the second chapter begins with an untranslated Italian crossword. This, and the sections being arranged according to the Fibonacci sequence, struck me as … Continue reading

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