Articles by Lydia Kiesling

March 31, 2014

Modern Library Revue: #19 Invisible Man 1

In America it is the privilege of the white man to rollick, even if he is a poor Jew born into moderate squalor. The black man, in this novel at any rate, can only be fucked around; his hope, in this novel, is to discover his own way of doing things.

March 5, 2014

Hot Beats and High Genre: Submergence by J.M. Ledgard 0

High genre is fiction that allows you to investigate an individual text, because it is full of its own traits and merits, whether in its characterizations, its plot, or its prose. Regular genre, I suppose, is something you can only talk about as a family — tracing the themes shared collectively among its members. High genre will always be vulnerable to the taint of its lower peers, because it shares the equipment, the same beats. This is why people are drawn to True Detective, and yet can accept assertions that it is just another dead naked lady show.

January 24, 2014

World History and Family Dinner: On Rachel Laudan’s Cuisine and Empire 9

I’m a known pig, but over the course of my 20s I have been successfully indoctrinated against certain kinds of fast food and most grocery items that come in packages, which leads to confused, contradictory, and offensive positions on things. I won’t eat a Keebler Snack Cake, but I will eat an entire salami. I spurn the Olive Garden, but regularly eat a calorie-laden burrito filled with God knows what. I see fellow bus-riders with translucent McDonald’s bags to be fed to young children and feel sad, disregarding my past encounters with the Quarter Pounder and the Whopper.

December 7, 2013

A Year in Reading: Lydia Kiesling 6

When I wasn’t reading a bunch of depressing shit, I read some strange and wonderful things.

November 5, 2013

Modern Library Revue: #26 The Wings of the Dove 16

Let’s say that my previous efforts with this book were equivalent to the disappointing herbal cigarette from a store called Groovy Vibes, or a bag of mulch obtained at the concert from someone’s questionable cousin. But this time I got, so to speak, the good shit. You eat the Henry James mushrooms, you look upon his dense thicket of sentences, his plodding parade of commas, and suddenly the text, and the entire world, come into insane focus.

October 9, 2013

A Little Bit Beta: On Dave Eggers’s The Circle 15

The Circle occupies an awkward place of satire and self-importance.

September 23, 2013

Franzen and the Twitter Bog 20

Twitter somehow encompasses both sides of the Emily Dickinson dichotomy. On Twitter, the Nobodies have seized hold of the mic and managed to occupy the bog.

August 21, 2013

Everything I Know About America I Learned from Stephen King 12

I never see a 7-Eleven Big Bite and don’t instinctively desire to eat it. I know that Heinz ketchup is unmistakable and precious. A new paperback purchased with crisp American dollars? That’s bliss. A Stephen King book? That’s Shangri-la.

July 16, 2013

Lyrical Gangster: Charlie Smith’s Men in Miami Hotels 3

Trying to find a name for Charlie Smith’s genre or style, I come up with “Disordered Lives of the Poets.” But how to pigeonhole this new novel? Lapsarian Lyric? Casuarina Crime? Key Noir? James Wood would think of something good.

June 5, 2013

Modern Life is Rubbish: Tao Lin’s Taipei 89

There is a small, deadly class of book that makes you never want to set pen to paper again. Tao Lin’s novel is a grave case of this kind, where you are faced with the consequences of writing down all the things you do or think. What if they sound like this? Colorless, witless, humorless. Picking out individual passages cannot express their cumulative monotonous assault on the senses.