… stars on charts, inside of us, outside of the skylights holding in their embrace laughable specks of rock and coagulated gas we named for our deities, which we in turn hold in our hands in the form of globes, globes and models and computers and books, an embrace more intimate and perhaps more important than the stars, for it is a studied one, the mind rapidly expanding, human intelligence and endeavor and hope red shifting in a desperate attempt to keep apace with the galaxy’s bleeding, fleeting edge …
“Even if some of the story beats sound familiar, their placement in Wuertz’s Seoul, where hair gleams “like the belly of a giant tuna” and drinks arrive “one after the other like the next turn on the disco ball” even as American GIs tear families apart and agitators are whisked away in black cars, renders them new.
The novel reveals an exciting place and time, in the catalytic sense, and all the more-so for us as visitors who are surrounded by its echoes—class, sex, race—even now.”
“While at Lawrence Academy in Groton, Massachusetts, Marnell is introduced to Ritalin and the entire trajectory of her life changes. Armed with a methylphenidate prescription, her grades soar, along with her social status. The performance-enhanced work/play dichotomy first established at Lawrence is repeated throughout the rest of the book, throughout the rest of her career; it is the speed which helps her rip through the hallowed halls of Condé Nast like garden shears through satin, pushes her into parties past dawn, sends her careening about the streets of Alphabet City, fitting in to exceptional designer jeans as she chases more drugs, work and people.
The image of the addict as hopelessly in the gutter, completely incapable of functioning, is torn asunder. She has crippling depressive periods, of course, wherein she does nothing for days, weeks, months, but Marnell is a voltaic little bee for much of her memoir, omnipresent around Magazine World. It would be impossible to deny her work ethic, drug-derived or not; Marnell’s desire to work in magazines and publishing is a constant lodestar, even if one being navigated while on a particularly unstable fuel source.”
“Tracing modern activists’ ideological lineage back to the famed Young Turks and Young Ottomans, Genç both vivisects modern-day Turkey and grounds it in the country’s past. There are no answers in the book, no tidy, big picture proclamations; the work is rather a snapshot of a nation during a crucial time in today’s political landscape.
Under the Shadow is, in short, both complicated and absolutely necessary.”
” … perfect save a pox, the red of dried blood—it’s the brightest color in the whole room, really, this dried-deoxygenated-but-still-too-fresh blood, each splock with its own idiosyncratic hair style, pili radiating as if from the weakest sun, clumping into constellations, gentle parabolic forms like arched eyebrows, carrying in them a sense of ad-hoc exigency, the kinetic beautiful violence requisite for their application demonstrated in their forms, an abstract take on a passage from a Bret Easton Ellis novel—The bathroom reeks of bleach and disinfectant and the floor is wet and gleaming even though the maid hasn’t started cleaning in here yet; Glamorama, pg. 256—a form of silent violence, an echo of a moment captured in all of its chaos atop a bone white grid, gleaming with gold, surrounded by marble, a porthole into God’s own bathroom…”
“Reputations is not quite a repudiation of the media’s power to suck the marrow from others. But by bringing Mallarino to a savage collision with the moment that afforded the cartoonist his prominence, Vásquez warns of the fragility inherent in such power. He’s calling into question whether the powers given to us—both by others and, perhaps more importantly, by ourselves—can ever come from a place of true honesty.”
“The sociopathic Gerard, a fearsome boy who is introduced setting a kitten ablaze, torments both siblings. A genuinely disturbing and well-written villain, he is far more monstrous than the creature from the ocean; the terror he causes bleeds off the page, and the reader’s only response to his arrival is a despondence even the most famously savage of characters cannot hope to inspire. There are more disturbing constructs—the internecine consciousness of American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman springs to mind—but few paralyze with their capacity for violence and blank-eyed brutality as Gerard does.”
Read the rest of my review of Carl-Johan Vallgren’s The Merman in Paste Magazine
“Lisa Randall is a Great Spider, in the most generous and pulchritudinous way such an analogue can be extended. She gathers a great many threads—some immediate, sticky, miring us in our day-to-day lives, and others thin, invisible, the incomprehensible ligature of existence—and weaves them into a web encompassing, in this particular instance, nothing less than the entirety of the Universe. She then shares this entirety with academic grace in the telescopic Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe.”
“Which is not to say that anything in here is particularly graphic; in fact, McCann goes to great lengths to bury the brutality—both in the actual writing of the book and, in one memorable instance, notionally within the character. McCann focuses not on the point of impact, but on the fissures from which it spreads by avoiding the easiest, most lusty evocation of beautiful violence—say, Bret Easton Ellis’ delicious horror. If it prevents the violence from truly, deeply, ineffably impacting the reader, so too does it rob the savagery of rhetorical hegemony, the shock preventing an examination of its effects, the same animal excitement with which we cheer action heroes or football players or videogame characters.”
“It is Jaworska’s sculptures, however, which most eloquently translate the construct’s tongue, set within a luxurious space evoking a bistre jewelry box, skeletal elements in pragmatic black apparently lifted directly from a sketchbook … Our noble, supplicant towering beasts are revealed for what they truly are—massive but subservient chevaux de frise against the void—in “Monument for Them,” which puts a beast on its knees for nothing but a charmingly simple salutation.”