Sunday, 16 June 2013
The Flamethrowers - Rachel Kushner
I suspect Rachel Kushner has crashed a motorcycle. I'm reading her story about Reno, an artist conduit riding between New York, Italy and Bonneville Salt Flats.
The sweat wicks from unzipped leather as we start this mainly 1970's journey. We pause the new Italian motorcycle, somewhere near the casino lands in Nevada.
My small confession; at the start, I wasn't even sure if Reno's voice was male or female. It's a good thing.
Kushner writes with a coriandoli flourish of descriptions; whether it's glittering shards of Peroni bottle on via Corso or the scream, careen, rooster tail, float of fast boys in the American desert.
There's sparsely written incidental characters who could inhabit Tom Waits lyrics.
Reno comes from unsentimental people. Sibling Sandro, fourteen years older, photographed as an artist aloof with a shotgun slashing an X across the picture.
There's a richness from the characters that Reno meets. Quite often they get the best lines.
There's several themes dipped in seventies colour: alienation, politics, art, types of freedom.
And I'll pause right there.
I was fascinated enough to root around for back story. And there, in the Paris Review, was an issue curated by Kushner.
It's a useful read and more detailed than author puff-pieces from week-end magazines. It informs the writer's process and provides the fun of sometimes uncommented trails back to the novel like the Chia picture by Ginsberg illustrated above.