Kushner has taken an intriguingly disparate set of subjects - the New York art world, the world of land speed records and the political unrest of 70s Italy, and woven them into the rites of passage story of a girl from Nevada nicknamed Reno and her initiation into the Bohemian milieu of New York, where she meets Sandro, an artist who has largely rejected his part in the family business that has made him rich. Reno is something of a blank cipher whose actions lead her into situations quite passively, but the set pieces are vivid and brilliantly painted. I was left wondering how many of the component stories were factual and how much was imagined, but it adds up to an impressive and readable whole.
The Flamethrowers : A Novel
Arrives by Wed, Aug 19
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About This Item
“Superb…Scintillatingly alive…A pure explosion of now.”—The New Yorker
Reno, so-called because of the place of her birth, comes to New York intent on turning her fascination with motorcycles and speed into art. Her arrival coincides with an explosion of activity—artists colonize a deserted and industrial SoHo, stage actions in the East Village, blur the line between life and art. Reno is submitted to a sentimental education of sorts—by dreamers, poseurs, and raconteurs in New York and by radicals in Italy, where she goes with her lover to meet his estranged and formidable family. Ardent, vulnerable, and bold, Reno is a fiercely memorable observer, superbly realized by Rachel Kushner.
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|Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)|
8.00 x 5.25 x 0.80 Inches
Kushner has taken an i...
Most of my friends hat...
Most of my friends hated this book. They were there how dare she write about it. But I think this had one of the strongest openings of any book I have read in years. I loved it. The language was precise but lyrical and the seamlessness of the art and the metaphor , the way speed and danger were interwoven was immaculate. My worry was could she sustain it and she couldn't although the book is still brilliant. It turned into a triangle romance and while it was good the art world aspect somehow receded in its power and we were left with a book that didn't break out of that mold. Still she can do these big scenes with all these characters and the fascinating "I' in the middle. Have to go back and study how she did it. I also personally loved her use of the pictoral as inspiration.
Just finished the last...
Just finished the last of the five free books I brought home from the ALA midwinter conference. The FlamethrowersThe DinnerAnd SonsThe Woman UpstairsIn the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the WoodsThe Flamethrowers was the best of the bunch.
Rachel Kushners The F...
Rachel Kushner's The Flamethrowers is one of the most talked-about novels of the past twelve months. Although I haven't been reading much literary fiction lately, I was impressed by this book's excellent reviews and decided to give it a shot. Set in 1970s New York and Rome, The Flamethrowers has a strong historical and political bent-yet much of the novel's details are fictional. It begins with narrator Reno traveling to Utah to race her Moto Valera bike across the desert and photograph the tracks left behind in the sand. Reno, an impressionable 21-year-old artist, has joined the vibrant New York art scene and has an older, influential boyfriend, Sandro Valera, who has gifted her the motorcycle. After crashing her bike during her land speed trial, Reno falls in with the Valera team, and they invite her to join them in Italy later in the year to race again. While in Italy (with Sandro), Reno inadvertently gets involved with a group of radicals who may or may not be involved in the abduction of Sandro's older brother and owner of Valera motorcycles. The Flamethrowers is rife with details and stories. It calls out the misogyny of the '70s New York art scene. It seamlessly intertwines history with story (although the novel overall has little straightforward "plot"), including the radical backgrounds and made-up stories told by many of the minor characters. It is funny and vibrant, and the prose is stunning; Kushner brings scenes beautifully to life with her words. And, beneath all of that, there is the story of Reno, a young woman navigating her way in a misogynistic art world, falling in love and having her heart broken. With its many layers, vivid settings, and radical characters, The Flamethrowers is an outstandingly crafted novel and definitely one worth reading.
This was beautifully w...
This was beautifully written, but the story itself was slow and downright dragged in places. The narrator seemed so detached from the events she described that it was hard to grasp any sort of depth of her character. Flamethrowers doesn't really shine because of the storytelling, but Kushner's talent still made this an overall enjoyable read.
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