12.5 Review of Rachel Kushner’s Flamethrowers

  1. This book deceptively begins on the peripheries of the ’70s art scene but quickly widens in scope to include workers’ movements and wartime Italy. Ms. Kushner successfully subsumes individual history in the favor of a larger historical narrative and the result is thrilling.

  2. The main character’s name is Reno because she is from Nevada. For the most part, we witness the action through her eyes and although we are privy to her emotions and inner thoughts they are depicted from a distance; she acts as the camera she longs to use.

  3. Reno works for a short while as a ‘China girl’. (I found this fascinating).

  4. That the world is male-centric (unfairly so) plays itself out again and again throughout the book. Women are used and discarded by men. This is shown as simply a fact of life.

  5. At 400 hundred pages you’re going to get peckish along the way. I’d suggest an Italian muffuletta and a nice chilled glass of Barbera del Monferrato.

  6. These groups features strongly in the book so you might wanna bone up on them.

  7. I feel changed. Like, say my mind is a sweater. And a loose thread gets tugged at, pulled and pulled until the sweater unravels and there’s only a big fluffy pile of yarn. You can make something with it, that pile of yarn, but it will never be a sweater again. That’s the state of things. (pg. 91)

  8. 70s NYC (well, Manhattan at least) perfectly summed up in a little over 3 and a half minutes.

  9. Kushner manages to pack a lot into this book but one thing she really depicts accurately is the loneliness of being young and on your own in a big city. She lays bare the insecurities we suffer from and, yes, the hopes we entertain when moving out into the world.

  10. She dates a guy who’s into this stuff.

  11. Speaking of 70s NYC

  12. Read an interview with Ms. Kushner (warning: may contain spoilers)

12.5 Buy a copy (and help support Oxfam UK)

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