Connect with us

Thai Life

An incandescent talent – Phuket Books

Legacy Phuket Gazette

Published

 on 

PHUKET: Since the death of Walker Percy in 1990, Robert Stone has been the Big Kahuna of American literature. Here is what he has to say about Rachel Kushner: “The controlled intensity and perception in Rachel Kushner’s novels mark her as one of the most brilliant writers of the new century.”

There is no denying the power of Kushner’s prose. But while Robert Stone was a charter member of Ken Kesey’s “Merry Pranksters” and his fictional characters are visionary seekers – missionaries, blue water sailors, Bushido warriors – are the poseurs in Kushner’s New York art world really worth the ardor she lavishes on them?

Her new novel is The Flamethrowers (Scribner, New York, 2013, 383pp). Her narrator is called Reno because that’s where she grew up. Her great loves are ski racing, motorcycles and art. Fresh from university, the lanky, gap-toothed Reno lands in New York in 1975 when Soho was full of young artists living in lofts.

Unlike the paint-besplattered artists who hung out at the Cedar Bar in the 1950s – Pollock, de Kooning, Rothko – this new generation doesn’t do or make anything. They dispatch their artistic ideas to a specialty workshop in Connecticut which manufactures the artwork on demand.

For example, the shiny metal canisters and cases of Sandro Valera. Pushing 40, the son of an Italian pioneer industrialist in rubber tires and motorcycles, Valera seduces Reno, improbably enough, when they shelter from a rainstorm in a Chinese movie theater: “The movie careened and clanged along, an old-fashioned opera full of cymbal crashes and agonies, the occasional gong, stringed instruments wearily entangling and disentangling.”

Reno moves into Valera’s loft and his arty circle of pontificating artists, critics and gallery owners. A dinner party forms a long satirical set piece.

Reno owned a Moto Valera motorcycle at home and, with Sandro’s reluctant connivance, picks up a new one in Reno and rides off to the Bonneville salt flats for a photographic art project. Reno describes the scene with hallucinogenic clarity:

“Pink gasoline and synthetic red engine oil soaked into the salt like butcher shop residue. The salt itself, up close, was the color of unbleached sugar, but the sunlight used it as if it were the brightest white. It was only when a cloud momentarily shifted over the sun and recast the earth in a different mood, cool and appealingly somber, that the salt revealed itself as a light shade of beige.”

Reno crashes her bike at 148mph in “an acute case of the present tense”. Having been adopted by the Moto Valera racing crew, since she speaks Italian after a student year in Florence, she nonchalantly sets a new woman’s land speed record with their experimental bike.

In parallel to Reno’s story is the one of Sandro’s father, Roberto, a veteran of a World War I motorcycle battalion, who returns home disillusioned.

“Italy had been all but ruined by its involvement in the war,” he observes. “Rome’s slum inhabitants were overrunning the city, zombie

— James Eckardt

 

Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram

image

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Insurgency26 mins ago

Volunteer ranger killed in grenade attack by suspected insurgents

Best of41 mins ago

Top 5 Spas in Koh Samui

Thailand48 mins ago

Hemp ice cream hits the Thai market

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Chon Buri1 hour ago

Chon Buri sets local order, restaurants in malls to only offer food for delivery

Thailand1 hour ago

Samut Prakan man dies in fire, possibly self-inflicted

Thailand2 hours ago

Royal Thai Police say bitterleaf can’t cure Covid

image
Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Coronavirus (Covid-19)3 hours ago

Tuesday Covid Update: 18,901 new cases, provincial totals

Thailand3 hours ago

Air Asia technician arrested for allegedly stealing electronics

Pattaya3 hours ago

“Pattaya Move On” reopening likely to be postponed as Covid cases surge

Thailand4 hours ago

3 metre long python caught near family’s house in Phuket

Thailand5 hours ago

Government says not to buy Favipiravir/Avigan online, says it might be fake

Phuket5 hours ago

Phuket bans alcohol sales at restaurants, issues order amid rise of Covid cases

Best of5 hours ago

Top 5 Mexican restaurants in Pattaya

Thailand6 hours ago

Good Morning Thailand | New restrictions, new Red Line train in Bangkok, Covid latest

Thailand6 hours ago

Ministry of Public Health says Pfizer vaccine will be allocated correctly, others disagree

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism5 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8

Trending