Reading Room catalogue

Chris Kraus and Hedi El Kholti
Author
Title
Publisher
Year
Code
The Confessions of Lady Nijō
Standford University Press
2007
RKK033

In about 1307 a remarkable woman in Japan sat down to complete the story of her life. The result was an autobiographical narrative, a tale of thirty-six years (1271-1306) in the life of Lady Nijō, starting when she became the concubine of a retired emperor in Kyoto at the age of fourteen and ending, several love affairs later, with an account of her new life as a wandering Buddhist nun.

Through the vagaries of history, however, the glory of Lady Nijō’s story has taken six and half centuries to arrive. The Confessions of Lady Nijō or Towazugatari in Japanese, was not widely circulated after it was written, perhaps because of the dynastic quarrel that soon split the imperial family, or perhaps because of Lady Nijo’s intimate portrait of a very human emperor. Whatever the cause, the book was neglected, then forgotten completely, and only a single manuscript survived. This was finally discovered in 1940, but would not be published until after World War II in 1950. This translation and its annotations draw on multiple Japanese editions, but borrow most heavily from the interpretations offered by Tsugita Kasumi.

Things Fall Apart
Penguin Books
2010
RKK001

Things Fall Apart is the first of three novels in Chinua Achebe’s critically acclaimed African Trilogy. It is a classic narrative about Africa’s cataclysmic encounter with Europe as it establishes a colonial presence on the continent. Told through the fictional experiences of Okonkwo, a wealthy and fearless Igbo warrior of Umuofia in the late 1800s, Things Fall Apart explores one man’s futile resistance to the devaluing of his Igbo traditions by British political andreligious forces and his despair as his community capitulates to the powerful new order.

(…) Things Fall Apart provides one of the most illuminating and permanent monuments to African experience. Achebe does not only capture life in a pre-colonial African village, he conveys the tragedy of the loss of that world while broadening our understanding of our contemporary realities.

Twenty Years at Hull-House
Signet Classics
2010
RKK002

Twenty Years at Hull-House is Jane Addams’s graphic account of her famed settlement house in Chicago’s West Side slums. Covering the years from 1889 to 1909, a time when America was fired with fear of subversives and suspicion of foreigners, this book stands as the immortal testament of a woman who lived and worked among the immigrant settlers, the sweatshop toilers, the unwed mothers, the hungry, the aged, the sick, to show them in practice what others merely preached: the true concept of American democracy.

Pig Earth
Vintage Books
1992
RKK004

With this haunting first volume in his Into Their Labours trilogy, John Berger begins his chronicle of the eclipse of peasant cultures in the twentieth century. Set in a small village in the French Alps, Pig Earth relates the stories of skeptical, hard-working men and fiercely independent women; of calves born and pigs slaughtered; of summer haymaking and long dark winters of rest; of the message of forgiveness from a dead father to his prodigal son; and of the marvelous Lucie Cabrol, exiled to a hut high in the mountains, an inexorable part of the lives of men who have known her. Above all, this masterpiece of sensuous description and profound moral resonance is an act of reckoning that conveys the precise wealth and weight of a world we are losing.

Monsieur Ouine
University of Nebraska Press
2000
RKK005

In a small village in northern France, Monsieur Ouine, a retired professor, is taken in by the dull local squire, Anthelme de Néréis, and soon rules the life of both Anthelme and his wife, Ginette. A fourteen-year-old fatherless boy, Philippe Dorval, flees home and, on impulse, follows Madame de Néréis to her château. There the squire, who is dying, tells the boy that his father is actually alive and well—that despite what Philippe’s mother had told him, his father had not died in World War I. The forsaken boy finds himself on that fatal evening succumbing to Monsieur Ouine’s embrace after falling into a drunken sleep in the old professor’s bed. The events of the tempestuous night lead to upheaval in the village the next morning, when, at dawn, a boy’s body is found afloat in a stream near the château.

Last Evenings on Earth
Vintage Books
2008
RKK006

This is the first collection by the universally acclaimed Chilean author to be published in English and it is an outstanding introduction to Bolaño’s writing. Bolaño’s narrators are grappling with their own private quests while living in the margins, on the edges, in constant flight from nightmarish threats. His stories are often witty, frequently melancholy and always original.

Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy’s New Killing Fields
Nation Books
2011
RKK007

Ciudad Juarez lies just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas. A once-thriving border town, it now resembles a failed state. Infamously known as the place where women disappear, its murder rate exceeds that of Baghdad.

In Murder City, Charles Bowden-one of the few journalists who spent extended periods of time in Juarez-has written an extraordinary account of what happens when a city disintegrates. Interweaving stories of its inhabitants-a beauty queen who was raped, a repentant hitman, a journalist fleeing for his life-with a broader meditation on the town’s descent into anarchy, Bowden reveals how Juarez’s culture of violence will not only worsen, but inevitably spread north.

Two Serious Ladies
Sort of Books
2010
RKK008

Eccentric, impulsive New York heiress, Christina Goering meets the anxious but equally unpredictable Mrs Copperfield at a party. Two serious ladies, for whom nothing is natural and anything is possible, they follow their singular paths in search of salvation.

Mrs Copperfield visits Panama with her husband, whom she abandons for love of Pacifica, a local prostitute, and her brothel home. Miss Goering, for her part, seeks redemption by swapping her mansion for a squalid little house and relishing ever more extreme encounters with strangers. At the end, the two women meet again.

First published in 1943, Two Serious Ladies is a true one-off – daring and original, with deadpan humour and devastating insights.

To Live and Think Like Pigs
Urbanomic
2014
RKK009

An uproarious portrait of the evils of the market and a technical manual for its innermost ideological workings, this is the story of how the perverted legacy of liberalism sought to knead Marx’s “free peasant” into a statistical “average man”—pliant raw material for the sausage-machine of postmodernity.

Combining the incandescent wrath of the betrayed comrade with the acute discrimination of the mathematician-physicist, Châtelet scrutinizes the pseudoscientific alibis employed to naturalize “market democracy” and the “triple alliance” between politics, economics, and cybernetics.

A bestseller in France on its publication in 1998, this book remains crucial reading for any future politics that wants to replace individualism with individuation and libertarianism with liberation, this new translation constitutes a major contribution to contemporary debate on neoliberalism, economics, and capitalist subjectivation.

For Bread Alone
Telegram Books
2006, 1992
RKK10

Driven by famine from their home in the Rif, Mohamed’s family walks to Tangiers in search of a better life. But things are no better there. Eight of Mohamed’s siblings die of malnutrition and neglect, and one is killed by Mohamed’s father in a fit of rage.

On moving to another province Mohamed learns how to charm and steal, and discovers the joys of drugs, sex and alcohol. Proud, insolent and afraid of no-one, Mohamed returns to Tangiers, where he is caught up in the violence of the 1952 independence riots. During a short spell in a filthy Moroccan jail, a fellow inmate kindles Mohamed’s life-altering love of literature.

A cult classic, For Bread Alone is an astonishing tale of human resilience and an unflinching and searing portrait of the early life of one of the Arab world’s most important and widely read authors.

The Sluts
Carroll & Graf
2005
RKK011

Written between 1994 and 2002, The Sluts is a black sheep cousin to Dennis Cooper’s internationally acclaimed George Miles Cycle.
Set largely on the pages of a website where gay male escorts are reviewed by their clients, and told through the postings, emails, and conversations of several dozen unreliable narrators, The Sluts chronicles the evolution of one young escort’s date with a satisfied client into a metafiction of pornography, lies, half-truths, and myth. Explicit, shocking, comical, and displaying the author’s signature flair for blending structural complexity with direct, stylish, accessible language, The Sluts is Cooper’s most transgressive novel since Frisk, and one of his most innovative works of fiction to date.

Père Goriot
Oxford University Press
2009
RKK003

This is the tragic story of a father whose obsessive love for his two daughters leads to his financial and personal ruin. It is set against the background of a whole society driven by social ambition and lust for money. The detailed descriptions of both affluence and squalor in the Paris of 1819 are an integral part of the drama played out by a wide range of characters, including the sinister but fascinating Vautrin.

 

Diary of an Innocent
Semiotext(e)
2007
RKK012

I’d find it amusing if, in a few centuries, the only thing that our descendents condescend to retain of our artistic production, the only thing in which they’ll see worlds to admire, to penetrate, the only thing that they’ll show off as precious in immense museums after having flushed down the toilet all our acknowledged masterpieces, the only thing that will give them nostalgia and love for us will be our porn.—from Diary of an Innocent

Exiled from the prestigious French literary circles that had adored him in the 1970s, novelist Tony Duvert’s life ended in anonymity. In 2008, nineteen years after his last book was published, Duvert’s lifeless body was discovered in the small village of Thoré-la-Rochette, where he had been living a life of total seclusion.

Now for the first time, Duvert’s most highly crafted novel is available in English. Poetic, brutally frank, and outright shocking, Diary of an Innocent recounts the risky experiences of a sexual adventurer among a tribe of adolescent boys in an imaginary setting that suggests North Africa. More reverie than narrative, Duvert’s Diary presents a cascading series of portraits of the narrator’s adolescent sexual partners and their culture, and ends with a fanciful yet rigorous construction of a reverse world in which marginal sexualities have become the norm.

Written with gusto and infused with a luminous bitterness, this novel is more unsettling to readers today than it was to its first audience when published in French in 1976. In his openly declared war on society, Duvert presents a worldview that offers no easy moral code and no false narrative solution of redemption. And yet no reader will remain untouched by the book’s dazzling language, stinging wit, devotion to matters of the heart, and terse condemnation of today’s society.

My Brilliant Friend
Europa Editions
2012
RKK013

Beginning in the 1950s in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples, Elena Ferrante’s four-volume story spans almost sixty years, as its main characters, the fiery and unforgettable Lila and the bookish narrator, Elena, become women, wives, mothers, and leaders, all the while maintaining a complex and at times conflicted friendship. This first novel in the series follows Lila and Elena from their fateful meeting as ten-year-olds through their school years and adolescence.

Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between two women.

Airless Spaces
Semiotext(e)
1998
RKK014

In 1970, at the age of twenty-five, Shulamith Firestone wrote and published The Dialectic of Sex, immediately becoming a classic of second wave feminism across the world to this very day. It was one of the few books that dared to look at how radical feminism could and should shape the future; and one whose predictions (the cybernetic revolution, for example) proved startlingly prescient of issues today.

Published by Semiotext(e) in 1998, Airless Spaces, Firestone’s first work of fiction, is a collection of short stories written by Firestone as she found herself drifting from the professional career path she’d been on and into what she describes as a new “airless space.” These deadpan stories, set among the disappeared and darkened sectors of New York City, are about losers who fall prey to an increasingly bureaucratized poverty and find themselves in an out of (mental) hospitals. But what gives characters such as SCUM-Manifesto author Valerie Solanas their depth and charge, is their the small crises that trigger an awareness that they’re in trouble. Some time later, after I had moved to St. Mark’s Place, I saw Valerie in the street. She asked me for a quarter, and I saw that she was begging. She had lost her apartment, and presumably her welfare. Later, a friend of mine who ran a store on St. Mark’s Place said that Valerie had approached him for shelter. She was covered with sores, and wearing only a blanket to beg in. She had been out on the street approximately three months without shelter. Not long after that, she disappeared from the street entirely.

Towards Another Summer
Virago
2012
RKK015

Life in England seems transitory for Grace Cleave as the pull of her native New Zealand grows stronger. She begins to feel increasingly like a migratory bird. Grace longs to find her own place in the world, if only she can decide where that is. But first she must learn to feel comfortable in her own skin, feathers and all.

Written in 1963, Janet Frame considered this novel too personal to be published in her lifetime.

Coma
Semiotext(e)
2010
RKK016

Long ago, in childhood, when Summer reverberates and feels and throbs all over, it begins to circumscribe my body along with my self, and my body gives it shape in turn: the “joy” of living, of experiencing, of already foreseeing dismembers it, this entire body explodes, neurons rush toward what attracts them, zones of sensation break off almost in blocks that come to rest at the four corners of the landscape, at the four corners of Creation.—from Coma

The novelist and playwright Pierre Guyotat has been called the last great avant-garde visionary of the twentieth century, and the near-cult status of his work—because of its extreme linguistic innovation and its provocative violence—has made him one of the most influential of French writers today. He has been hailed as the true literary heir to Lautréamont and Arthur Rimbaud, and his “inhuman” works have been mentioned in the same breath as those by Georges Bataille and Antonin Artaud.

Winner of the 2006 prix Décembre, Coma is the deeply moving, vivid portrayal of the artistic and spiritual crisis that wracked Guyotat in the 1980s when he reached the physical limits of his search for a new language, entered a mental clinic, and fell into a coma brought on by self-imposed starvation. A poetic, cruelly lucid account, Coma links Guyotat’s illness and loss of subjectivity to a broader concern for the slow, progressive regeneration of humanity. Written in what the author himself has called a “normalized writing,” this book visits a lifetime of moments that have in common the force of amazement, brilliance, and a flash of life. Grounded in experiences from the author’s childhood and his family’s role in the French Resistance, Coma is a tale of initiation that provides an invaluable key to interpreting Guyotat’s work, past and future.

The End of a Primitive
W.W. Norton & Company
1997
RKK017

Jesse Robinson wakes from his nightmare to dirty, fitful real life in a Harlem slum. Kriss wakes up alone divorced, disillusioned, in her plush Manhattan apartment. They have nothing in common. Just one amazing, passionate weekend in Chicago and a desire to meet again.

Three Month Fever
Quartet Books
1999
RKK018

It was suddenly chic to be “targeted” by Andrew…. It also became chic to claim a deep personal friendship with Versace, to infer that one might, but for a trick of fate, have been with Versace at the very moment of his “assassination,” as it had once been chic to reveal one’s invitation to Cielo Drive in the evening of the Tate slayings, an invitation only declined because of car trouble or a previous engagement—from Three Month Fever

(…) In this brilliant and gripping hybrid of narrative and reflection, Indiana considers the way the media’s hypercoverage transformed Andrew Cunanan’s life “from the somewhat poignant and depressing but fairly ordinary thing it was into a narrative overripe with tabloid evil.”

“America loves a successful sociopath,” Indiana explains. This sardonic and artful reconstruction of the brief life of the party boy who became a media sensation for shooting Gianni Versace is a spellbinding fusion of journalism, social commentary, and novelistic projection. By following Cunanan’s notorious “trail of death,” Indiana creates a compelling portrait of a brilliant, charismatic young man whose pathological lies made him feel more like other people—and more interesting than he actually was. Born in a working-class exurb of San Diego and educated at an elite private school, Cunanan strove to “blend in” with the upscale gay male scene in La Jolla. He ended up crazed and alone, eventually embarking on a three-month killing spree that took the lives of five men, including that of Versace, before killing himself in a Miami boathouse, leaving behind a range of unanswerable questions and unsolvable mysteries.

“Gary Indiana belongs to a special breed of American urban writers who take cool pleasure in dissecting the lives of the rich and ugly and is possibly the most jaded chronicler of them all. On a good day, he makes Bret Easton Ellis look like Enid Blyton, yet many, myself included, think he might have already written the Great America Novel(s).”—Christopher Fowler, The Independent

Torpor
Semiotext(e)
2006
RKK019

Sylvie wanted to believe that misery could simply be replaced with happiness. Time was a straight line, stretching out before you. If you could create a golden kind of time and lay it right beside the other time, the time of horror, Bad History could just recede into the distance without ever having to be resolved.—from Torpor

Set at the dawn of the New World Order, Chris Kraus’s third novel, Torpor loops back to the beginning of the decade that was the basis of I Love Dick, her pseudo-confessional cult-classic debut. It’s summer, 1991, post-MTV, pre-AOL. Jerome Shafir and Sylvie Green, two former New Yorkers who can no longer afford an East Village apartment, set off on a journey across the entire former Soviet Bloc with the specious aim of adopting a Romanian orphan. Nirvana’s on the radio everywhere, and wars are erupting across Yugoslavia. Unhappily married to Jerome, a 53-year-old Columbia University professor who loathes academe, Sylvie thinks only of happiness. At 35, she dreams of stuffed bears and wonders why their lives lack the tremulous sincerity that pervades thirtysomething, that season’s hot new TV show. There are only two things, Sylvie thinks, that will save them: a child of their own, and the success of The Anthropology of Unhappiness, her husband’s long-postponed book on the Holocaust. But as they move forward toward impoverished Romania, Jerome’s memories of his father’s extermination at Auschwitz and his own childhood survival impede them.

Savagely ironic and deeply lyrical, Torpor explores the swirling mix of nationalisms, capital flows and negative entropy that define the present, haunted by the persistence of historical memory. Written in the third person, it is her most personal novel to date.

Mad Like Artaud
Univocal Publishing
2015
RKK021

Those who are mad like Antonin Artaud, are they just as mad as he was? Madness, like the plague, is contagious, and everyone, from his psychiatrists to his disciples, family, and critics, everyone who gets close to Artaud, seems to participate in his delirium. Sylvère Lotringer explores various embodiments of this shared delirium through what Artaud called “mental dramas”—a series of confrontations with his witnesses or “persecutors” where we uncover the raw delirium at work, even in Lotringer himself. Mad Like Artaud does not intend to add one more layer of commentary to the bitter controversies that have been surrounding the cursed poet’s work since his death in 1948, nor does it take sides among the different camps who are still haggling over his corpse. This book speaks of the site where “madness” itself is simmering.

Birds of America
Open Road Media
2013
RKK022
It is 1964, and Peter Levi, a young student and bird watcher, has come to Paris to study at the Sorbonne. Shy and innocent at nineteen years old, he arrives fresh from an extended Maine holiday with his vivacious mother, and is determined to live a life free of unwanted complications and unnecessary stress. But this is an era of great change in the world, a time when war is looming in Southeast Asia and social unrest is simmering. There is much to trouble and confuse the young American as he journeys through foreign countries—and feelings—into adulthood. For Peter, the simplicity of childhood is over—and his new life is becoming increasingly complex in a world growing more unrecognizable by the day.
Mary McCarthy’s splendid Birds of America is a moving and surprising coming-of-age tale: the unforgettable story of a young man’s awakening, and a stunning evocation of the disorienting change of the 1960s.
Miserable Miracle
New York Review Books
2002
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This book is an exploration. By means of words, signs, drawings. Mescaline, the subject explored.” In Miserable Miracle, the great French poet and artist Henri Michaux, a confirmed teetotaler, tells of his life-transforming first encounters with a powerful hallucinogenic drug. At once lacerating and weirdly funny, challenging and Chaplinesque, his book is a breathtaking vision of interior space and a piece of stunning writing wrested from the grip of the unspeakable.

Includes forty pages of black-and-white drawings.

Senselessness
New Directions
2008
RKK024

A boozing, sex-obsessed writer finds himself employed by the Catholic Church (an institution he loathes) to proofread a 1,100 page report on the army’s massacre and torture of thousands of indigenous villagers a decade earlier, including testimonies of the survivors. The writer’s job is to tidy it up: he rants “that was what my work was all about, cleaning up and giving a manicure to the Catholic hands that were piously getting ready to squeeze the balls of the military tiger.”

Publishers Weekly calls Senselessness a “crushing satire,” remarking, “It’s Moya’s genius to make this difficult character seem a product of the same death and disorder documented in the report, as the survivors’ voices merge with his own;” and Russell Banks writes, “This is a brilliantly crafted moral fable, as if Kafka had gone to Latin America for his source materials. I’ve not read anything quite like it. Clearly, Castellanos Moya is a major writer who deserves a wide audience in the U.S.” Roberto Bolaño called Castellanos Moya “the only writer of my generation who knows how to narrate the horror, the secret Vietnam that Latin America was for a long time.” He also said about his work, “nationalists of all stripes can’t stand it. Its sharp humor, not unlike a Buster Keaton film or a time bomb, threatens the fragile stability of imbeciles who, when they read the book, have an uncontrollable desire to hang the author in the town square. I can’t think of a higher honor for a writer.”

The Appointment
Portobello Books
2010
RKK026

‘I’ve been summoned, Thursday, ten sharp.’ So begins one day in the life of a young clothing-factory worker during Ceausescu’s totalitarian regime. She has been questioned before, but this time she knows it will be worse. Her crime? Sewing notes into the linings of men’s suits bound for Italy. ‘Marry me’, the notes say, with her name and address. Anything to get out of the country. As she rides the tram to her interrogation, her thoughts stray to her friend Lilli, shot while trying to flee to Hungary; to her grandparents, deported after her first husband informed on them; to Major Albu, her interrogator, who begins each session with a wet kiss on her fingers; and to Paul, her lover and the one person she can trust. In her distraction, she misses her stop and finds herself on an unfamiliar street. And what she discovers there suddenly puts her fear of the appointment into chilling perspective. Bone-spare and intense, The Appointment is a pitiless rendering of the terrors of a crushing regime.

Peyote Hunt: The Sacred Journey of the Huichol Indians
Cornell University Press
1976
RKK027

“Ramón Medina Silva, a Huichol Indian shaman priest or mara’akame, instructed me in many of his culture’s myths, rituals, and symbols, particularly those pertaining to the sacred untiy of deer, maize, and peyote. The significance of this constellation of symbols was revealed to me most vividly when I accompanied Ramón on the Huichol’s annual ritual return to hunt the peyote in the sacred land of Wirikuta, in myth and probably in history the place from which the Ancient Ones (ancestors and deities of the present-day Indians) came before settling in their present home in the mountains of the Sierra Madre Occidental in north-central Mexico. My work with Ramón preceded and followed our journey, but it was this peyote hunt that held the key to, and constituted the climax of, his teachings.”—from the Preface

Cool for You
Soft Skull Press
2000
RKK025

The first published novel of legendary poet and performer Eileen Myles follows a queer female growing up in working-class Boston, straining against the institutions that hold her: family, Catholic school, jobs at a camp, at a nursing home, at a school for developmentally disabled adult males.

She wants to be an astronaut. Instead, she becomes a poet and journeys through a series of low-end schools, pathetic jobs, and unmade beds. Schooled by mean and memorable Catholic nuns, this tomboy heroine stumbles and dreams her way through the painful corridors of family, early sexual encounters, and an eye-opening series of jobs caring for the sick and insane–the abandoned wards of the state. This is a book hell-bent on telling the truth about poor women, and how they do (and do not) get out of the hands of their families and the state. Without artifice or pseudonym, protagonist Eileen Myles boldly sets down a rich and graphic account of female experience in this world.

Free-ranging and deadpan, tragic and joyful, this is a book about women, gender, class, bodies, escape, and what it means to be “inside.” Never more relevant, and now with an introduction by Chris Kraus.

The Sad Passions
Semiotext(e)
2013
RKK028

Told by six women in one family, Veronica Gonzalez Pena’s The Sad Passions captures the alertness, beauty, and terror of childhood lived in proximity to madness. Set against the backdrop of a colonial past, spanning three generations, and shuttling from Mexico City to Oaxaca to the North Fork of Long Island to Veracruz, The Sad Passions is the lyrical story of a middle-class Mexican family torn apart by the undiagnosed mental illness of Claudia, a lost child of the 1960s and the mother of four little girls.

It is 1960, and the wild and impulsive sixteen-year-old Claudia elopes from her comfortable family home in Mexico City with Miguel, a seductive drifter who will remain her wandering husband for the next twenty years. Hitchhiking across the United States with Miguel, sometimes spending the night in jails, Claudia stops sleeping and begins seeing visions. Abandoned at a small clinic in Texas, she receives electroshock treatment while seven months pregnant with her first daughter. Afterward, Miguel leaves her, dumb and drooling, at her mother’s doorstep.

Living more often at her mother’s home than with Miguel, Claudia will give birth to four girls. But when Julia, her second daughter, is inexplicably given away to a distant relation in Los Angeles, Claudia’s fragile, uncertain state comes to affect everyone around her. Julia’s disappearance—which could symbolize the destabilizing effect of manic depression—will become the organizing myth in all of the daughters’ unsettled lives; for if one can disappear, why not all of them?

Eustace Chisholm and the Works
Livertight
2015
RKK030

No James Purdy novel has dazzled contemporary writers more than this haunting tale of unrequited love in an indifferent world. A seedy depression-era boarding house in Chicago plays host to “a game of emotional chairs“ (The Guardian) in a novel initially condemned for its frank depiction of abortion, homosexuality, and life on the margins of American society. A cast of characters displaced by economic distress congeal around the embittered poet Eustace Chisholm, who acts as a something of a Greek chorus for the doomed and destructive relationship that is instigated when landlord Daniel Haws falls in love with young college student Amos Ratcliffe. Building to a shocking conclusion, Eustace Chisholm and the Works is a dark and gothic look at the strange and terrible power of love amid a “psychic American landscape of deluded innocence, sexual obsession, violence, and isolation“ (William Grimes, New York Times).

Mercury
Fence Books
2015
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Composed in the direct, accessible, consciousness-piercing style of which readers of Ariana Reines’ first two books are wildly enamored, Mercury comprises a group of long poems. These interlocking works speak to the substance and essence of what is said, transmitted, transacted, “communicated” between persons. Reines proposes that substance and essence are opposites, and explores this in contexts including commercial cinema, the nation-state, currency, alchemy, and internet porn.

“An (al)chymical wedding raises two bonded souls from the dross of common affection. In these times, finding the marriage of souls unlikely or impossible or simply a source of unconsummated yearning, Ariana Reines unforgettably attempts the bonding of mind and body, body and soul, attempts the magic formula that changes lead into gold, to turn the partitioned creature into a celestial whole.

Reines discovers that the poetry for this task “is not made of words,” and so she works with spell and symbol to practice the lost art that will transmute the world. If this seems easy to say, it requires a great deal of art to accomplish, and Mercury is a great and painful work of art.”
 —Michael Silverblatt, Bookworm, KCRW Public Radio

The Femicide Machine
Semiotext(e)
2012
RKK032

In Ciudad Juarez, a territorial power normalized barbarism. This anomalous ecology mutated into a femicide machine: an apparatus that didn’t just create the conditions for the murders of dozens of women and little girls, but developed the institutions that guarantee impunity for those crimes and even legalize them. A lawless city sponsored by a State in crisis. The facts speak for themselves.—from The Femicide Machine

Best known to American readers for his cameo appearances as The Journalist in Roberto Bolano’s 2666 and as a literary detective in Javier Marías’s novel Dark Back of Time, Sergio González Rodríguez is one of Mexico’s most important contemporary writers. He is the author of Bones in the Desert, the most definitive work on the murders of women and girls in Juárez, Mexico, as well as The Headless Man, a sharp meditation on the recurrent uses of symbolic violence; Infectious, a novel; and Original Evil, a long essay. The Femicide Machine is the first book by González Rodríguez to appear in English translation.

Written especially for Semiotext(e) Intervention series, The Femicide Machine synthesizes González Rodríguez’s documentation of the Juárez crimes, his analysis of the unique urban conditions in which they take place, and a discussion of the terror techniques of narco-warfare that have spread to both sides of the border. The result is a gripping polemic. The Femicide Machine probes the anarchic confluence of global capital with corrupt national politics and displaced, transient labor, and introduces the work of one of Mexico’s most eminent writers to American readers.

The Criminal
Mullholland Books
2014
RKK034

Everyone in Kenton Hills knows that short-tempered, tongue-tied Bob Talbert wasn’t the one responsible for the brutal crime that ended Josie Eddleman’s life. Nevermind that he was the last one to see her alive.

But in a town filled with the likes of an amoral tabloid reporter known only as The Captain, a district attorney who’ll do anything for a confession, and Bob’s parents, who care as little for Bob as they do for each other, guilt and innocence are little more than a matter of perspective.

In a masterfully woven tapestry of multiple points of view, The Criminal explores the nature of guilt and responsibility in a psychological thriller of an entire town under the spell of an act of brutal violence.

Absence Makes the Heart
Serpent’s Tail
1991
RKK035

This novel plunges the reader back to the experimental and enlightened London and Amsterdam of the late 1960s, where the heroine explores theatre, underground film, and men, recklessly chasing every experience which confirms her femininity.

The Aesthetics of Resistance, Volume 1 (A Novel)
Duke University Press
2005
RKK036

A major literary event, the publication of this masterly translation makes one of the towering works of twentieth-century German literature available to English-speaking readers for the first time. The three-volume novel The Aesthetics of Resistance is the crowning achievement of Peter Weiss, the internationally renowned dramatist best known for his play Marat/Sade. The first volume, presented here, was initially published in Germany in 1975; the third and final volume appeared in 1981, just six months before Weiss’s death.

Spanning the period from the late 1930s to World War II, this historical novel dramatizes antifascist resistance and the rise and fall of proletarian political parties in Europe. Living in Berlin in 1937, the unnamed narrator and his peers—sixteen- and seventeen-year-old working-class students—seek ways to express their hatred for the Nazi regime. They meet in museums and galleries, and in their discussions they explore the affinity between political resistance and art, the connection at the heart of Weiss’s novel. Weiss suggests that meaning lies in embracing resistance, no matter how intense the oppression, and that we must look to art for new models of political action and social understanding. The novel includes extended meditations on paintings, sculpture, and literature. Moving from the Berlin underground to the front lines of the Spanish Civil War and on to other parts of Europe, the story teems with characters, almost all of whom are based on historical figures. The Aesthetics of Resistance is one of the truly great works of postwar German literature and an essential resource for understanding twentieth-century German history.