Reviews and arts writing.
Kenneth Goldsmith’s Capital
Goldsmith’s Capital moves Walter Benjamin’s The Arcades Project to New York and remixes it for the digital age. But what does it tell us about Goldsmith’s project—and his “appropriative” style?
‘The Arcades Project is no autopsy report, but it is still difficult to imagine Goldsmith and his publishers not envisioning the censure that might reasonably follow this particular writer taking the unfinished work of a refugee and adopting its form without including what Lauren Elkin, writing in the Financial Times, calls “the analysis.”’
Máirtín Ó Cadhain’s Graveyard Clay and The Dirty Dust
Can you believe it? You wait sixty-six years for a translation and then two come along at once.
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
Madeleine Thien’s novel of music and silence during China’s Cultural Revolution reminds us why storytelling matters.
Solar Bones by Mike McCormack
Like Samuel Beckett and James Joyce, Mike McCormack finds glory in the banal with a new novel set on All Soul’s Day.
Riverrun Through It: Imagining & Reimagining Finnegans Wake
‘Although the Dublin statue poses her in grey, and half-submerged in water, the Anna Livia of Finnegans Wake is said to have ‘auburnt streams’ for hair, and be dressed in a variety of odd costumes which include potato earrings and a ‘clothespeg’, ‘tight astride on her joki’s nose’. There is something of the music hall about these descriptions, and before attending riverrun it would be difficult to imagine why anyone would elect to dress this publican’s wife in a suit.
One look at Fouéré, however, and the ridiculousness of trying to stage such a vision becomes immediately apparent. If one is attempting to invoke a woman who is at once every woman, details are only cumbersome: the pulled-back hair and minimalist tailoring of this river suddenly seem to be the only viable choice. Against such austere visuals, Fouéré is able to call up every aspect of ALP which the chapter invokes.
In fact, having seen the play once at floor level, I was so impressed that I returned to watch it from a seat in The Shed’s balcony and was amazed to see a whole other side to her performance emerge; from below Fouéré’s ALP seems to be a towering queen of a woman, but from above a fraught actress desperately acting out skits against the clock. Every angle of her is there: the cleaner, the mother, the wife, the river. She is the only person on stage but she is many women. In a novel which forces any adaptation to pick a stance, riverrun has somehow managed to include them all.’