Book Review: Siblings: Brothers and Sisters in American History by C. Dallett Hemphill

From collective fun to mutual fondness, from emotional and financial support to bitter rivalry, and from abuse to acts of devotion this book is a cohesive narrative on intricacies of siblinghood in a country whose share of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was one of commotion, change, migration, social unrest, and attempts at self-definition and national coming-of-age. Continue reading

Book Review: The Politics of the Body: Gender in a Neoliberal and Neoconservative Age by Alison Phipps

Two anecdotes in the opening pages of Alison Phipps’s The Politics of the Body: Gender in a Neoliberal and Neoconservative Age set the scene for what is a thorough, if at times frustrating, investigation into the ‘difficulties of positioning for contemporary feminist theory and activism’ (2). Continue reading

Research Across Borders – As fragile as a metaphor: Constructing Edna St. Vincent Millay from the Library of Congress records

These newspaper and magazine articles provide a striking insight into the version of Millay constructed by the press. She is consistently referred to as a ‘little poetess’ and reviews of her live performances pay as much attention on her gowns, hairstyles and gestures as they do the words of her poems. Continue reading

Book Review: States of Trial: Manhood in Philip Roth’s Post-War America by Ann Basu

Given that Philip Roth has spent most of his career defending his writing, it’s appropriate that his ‘retirement’ would only be a spur to further debate amongst his readers. After a quiet announcement in the French cultural magazine Les InRocks (so quiet that the Anglophone world didn’t pick up on it until a full month later), Roth called time on a long and storied career. Since then, several critics have already published research that attempts to grapple with the complex issue of Roth’s literary legacy. One of the best of these works is Ann Basu’s recent monograph States of Trial. Continue reading

Book Review: Stuff Theory, Everyday Objects, Radical Materialism by Maurizia Boscagli

In Stuff Theory, Maurizia Boscagli approaches the object at a particular moment in the life-cycle of consumer capitalism. When things are no longer desirable – when the shine has worn off, or clothes become overworn, and knick-knacks are shoved to the back of the shelf – but are not yet broken-down enough to be comfortably categorised as trash, they become, for Boscagli, ‘stuff’. Continue reading

Trauma, Code and 9/11: Reading Vulnerability in a Digitized Present

Trauma shatters what we know and hold to be true, and these 9/11 texts find unexpected ways out of this. They are fictions of terror that embrace the reality of trauma within a digitized world. Beyond mourning, the experience of terror becomes the starting point for re-defining the place of the individual in the convoluted realities of our present day. These texts are a sensorium for a more humane present in the face of global terrorism. Continue reading

Sea Birds, Castaways, and Phantom Islands off Newfoundland

On the twentieth of April 1534, Jacques Cartier sailed from St. Malo, France, with two ships and sixty-one men aboard each. On the tenth of May they came to Newfoundland at Cape Bonavista. On the twenty-first of May they sailed Northeast until they came upon an island encompassed by a jumble of broken ice which Cartier named l’Isle des Ouaisseaulx (Isle of Birds), as it’s surface was covered with nesting sea birds and the cries of thousands more filled the air overhead. Continue reading

Book Review: New Literary Portraits of the American West: Contemporary Nevada Fiction by David Rio

Ranging from Basque immigrants to nuclear waste, the book engages with established depictions of the area through referencing non-Nevadans Hunter S Thompson and Joan Didion as well as less known Nevadan writers such as Frank Bergon and Robert Laxalt. Whilst positing new and dynamic readings, Rio remains sensitive to his reader’s expectations, throwing Las Vegas and Reno’s seedy underbelly in for good measure, producing the first book length study of its kind. Continue reading

Book Review: The Maximalist Novel: From Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow to Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 by Stefano Ercolino

In this assertive monograph Ercolino seeks to introduce and codify the formal characteristics of what he terms the ‘maximalist novel’: ‘an aesthetically hybrid genre of the contemporary novel’ that emerged in the United States with William Gaddis’s The Recognitions (1955) (xi). Continue reading