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Five Decades of Tough Love and Leather

In Nancy Grossman: Tough Life Diary (Prestel, 2012), performer Elizabeth Streb relays an anecdote about artist Nancy Grossman startling her by wearing a monkey fur jacket. It’s one of those images that has an unsettling, visceral nature to it, like striding through life in a skin ripped from another person, the carnal texture of some sliced up simian.

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Luminous Loss: Karen Green’s “Bough Down”

At the start of Karen Green’s prismatic first book, Bough Down, it is June. “Does it begin like this?” she writes, and describes in glittering prose a pastoral arrangement of household objects: garden hose, cigarettes, fuzzy pills, artichoke stalks. The items seem innocent enough until they become intricately linked with the narrative surrounding the aftermath of the suicide of David Foster Wallace, the author’s late husband.

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Reading the “Nothings that Are”: Craig Dworkin’s “No Medium”

“In No Medium Craig Dworkin looks at works that are blank, erased, clear, or silent … point[ing] to a new understanding of media.” So goes the back cover copy of the author’s new book, which was released in March by MIT Press. This paratextual statement, while certainly catchy, is a bit misleading regarding Dworkin’s argument as well as the actual nature of his objects of study (some of the treated works, such as John Cage’s 4 ’33” and Robert Rauschenberg’s White Paintings, are well known while many others are not); and it risks obscuring, to some extent, the host of wonderful subtleties, the wily interpretive moves and maneuvers that can be found within the book itself.

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Thrivers in the Muck: Matias Viegener (Part One)

Sometimes, it is hard to remember that Social Media came along years after the rise of the personal computer and the Internet, which Al Gore called the “Information Superhighway.” But like the highway in Jean-Luc Godard’s apocalyptic comedy, Weekend (1967), the Internet is littered with refuse and ugliness of all kinds: overturned vehicles and violence.

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This Book Is About as Fun as a Barrel of Monkeys

The phrase “barrel of monkeys” generally means a bit of crazy fun. In some cases, though, people may use it as an example of something that’s less fun, i.e. “this party is way more entertaining than a barrel of monkeys.” This contradictory dual meaning makes Barrel of Monkeys a great title for a graphic novel by French cartoonists Florent Ruppert and Jérôme Mulot — in my eyes, at least, because I still haven’t decided whether the book was a really awesome barrel of monkeys or the lesser variety.