Book Review: “The Flamethrowers” by Rachel Kushner

2 STARS

If I had not received a free copy in exchange for a LibraryThing review, I would not have finished this book, which frustrated and ultimately bored me. Kushner has the chops to be a spectacular writer and does much stylistic muscle-flexing but all the disparate components of this book remained just that. Maybe I’m old-fashioned. I wanted a fusion of pieces that would make the whole hang together. Instead, every time that story momentum started to build, or I started to get into a character or relationship, I got thrown out and had to slog through exposition for its own sake, and too many pontificating characters.

So much of the treatment is superficial. Kushner conveys the pompous narcissism of the Manhattan art scene, but not the charisma that draws us to the artists despite that. Her descriptions are very detailed – from motorcycle racing to student rebellions – but she never got me to care about any of it. I kept falling out of the narrative to wonder Why is she telling me all this now? Or at all?

Perhaps my negative reaction would have been less pronounced if the cover quote had not proclaimed her “one of the most brilliant writers of the new century.” That quote raised expectations that this book never remotely came close to meeting.

P.S. Here is a synopsis of the book, heavily embellished by the publisher.

For Not Much Longer: Free Ebooks!

You’ve got a few hours left to take action…

Until the end of July, 2013, you can download free and discounted ebooks from Smashwords, an indie publishing distribution site. I hope you will start with mine!

Get free ebook versions of my novels  Scar Jewelry or C.R.I.M.E. Science

Here’s how:  click on the title, which will take you to each book’s  page at Smashwords, where you will find downloads that work with every common e-reader. Use the code SW100 to get each free book.

If you are an especially cautious individual, you may first want to read free excerpts, available under the Novels menu on this blog.

This giveaway is part of the annual Summer Promotion at Smashwords.

And – remember to write a review! Readers’ reviews are incredibly important to indie authors.

Brief descriptions of each book follow.

Cover for Scar Jewelry

Cover art by Lars Huston.

Scar Jewelry

What do we really know about our parents or the ways they shape us? For twins Deirdre and Langston, 20, the answer is: not enough. With their father long dead, and their mother now in a coma, they realize they don’t even know whom to notify. In fact, they understand almost nothing about their mother. They delve into her life and uncover secrets that revise the past and transform the future.

====================

CRIMESCIENCE_cover

Cover art by Lars Huston.

C.R.I.M.E. Science

A misfit group of scientists and tech whizzes form a detective agency in order to solve crimes and right wrongs. In this, the first book of a series, they investigate the death of a renowned volcano scientist. He dies in a volcanic eruption in what everyone considers a terrible accident. Everyone except his widow, who insists he was murdered.

 

Pssst! Free Ebooks!

Until the end of July, 2013, you can download free and discounted ebooks from Smashwords, an indie publishing distribution site. I hope you will start with mine!

Get free ebook versions of my novels  Scar Jewelry or C.R.I.M.E. Science

Here’s how:  click on the title, which will take you to each book’s  page at Smashwords, where you will find downloads that work with every common e-reader. Use the code SW100 to get each free book.

If you are an especially cautious individual, you may first want to read free excerpts, available under the Novels menu on this blog.

This giveaway is part of the annual Summer Promotion at Smashwords.

Please help spread the word about this giveaway.

And – remember to write a review! Readers’ reviews are incredibly important to indie authors.

Brief descriptions of each book follow.

Cover for Scar Jewelry

Cover art by Lars Huston.

Scar Jewelry

What do we really know about our parents or the ways they shape us? For twins Deirdre and Langston, 20, the answer is: not enough. With their father long dead, and their mother now in a coma, they realize they don’t even know whom to notify. In fact, they understand almost nothing about their mother. They delve into her life and uncover secrets that revise the past and transform the future.

====================

CRIMESCIENCE_cover

Cover art by Lars Huston.

C.R.I.M.E. Science

A misfit group of scientists and tech whizzes form a detective agency in order to solve crimes and right wrongs. In this, the first book of a series, they investigate the death of a renowned volcano scientist. He dies in a volcanic eruption in what everyone considers a terrible accident. Everyone except his widow, who insists he was murdered.

 

The Daily Prompt: Person of the Year – Philip Marlowe

images-1

Marlowe was at his finest in this book.

Detective Philip Marlowe is the person of this or any year, but don’t give him the award. He’ll be a no show at the ceremony and not just because he’s a work of fiction.

Of all the characters I have met and loved in novels, Marlowe is my favorite. I recently re-read his seven novels and found them as fresh and relevant as they were when I last read them, decades ago.

Marlowe has an unswervable moral code. He makes mistakes, he has doubts, but he always knows what’s right and acts accordingly. His morality is personally customized. It may not jive with law or mores but when there’s a discrepancy, Marlowe’s right.

Marlowe despises phonies and looks out for underdogs. He’s smart but he mostly operates on instinct. He’s often alone and frequently lonely. He’ll never be rich and he doesn’t care because wealth costs honor. Not that he’d ever put it like that. He doesn’t go on about honor or loyalty or justice or dignity but he lives his life in ways that promote all four.

Spread the Word: Free eBooks! (thru March 9)

Until sometime on March 9, 2013, you can download a free digital version of either Scar Jewelry or C.R.I.M.E. Science

Here’s how:  click on the title, which will take you to each book’s download page at Smashwords, where you will find formats for every common ereader. Use the code RW100 to get your free copy of each.

If you are an especially cautious individual, you may first want to read free excerpts of either or both, available under the Novels menu on this blog.

This giveaway is part of the annual Read an EBook promotion at Smashwords.

Please help spread the word about this giveaway.

Brief descriptions of each book follow.

Cover for Scar Jewelry

Cover art by Lars Huston.

Scar Jewelry

What do we really know about our parents or the ways they shape us? For twins Deirdre and Langston, 20, the answer is: not enough. With their father long dead, and their mother now in a coma, they realize they don’t even know whom to notify. In fact, they understand almost nothing about their mother. They delve into her life and uncover secrets that revise the past and transform the future.

====================

CRIMESCIENCE_cover

Cover art by Lars Huston.

C.R.I.M.E. Science

A misfit group of scientists and tech whizzes form a detective agency in order to solve crimes and right wrongs. In this, the first book of a series, they investigate the death of a renowned volcano scientist. He dies in a volcanic eruption in what everyone considers a terrible accident. Everyone except his widow, who insists he was murdered.

 

An Attitude to Aspire To

Recently, through the book-lovers’ site LibraryThing, I have gotten to know a woman who is plagued by two spinal conditions, each of which can be impossibly painful. When I expressed my regret about this, she replied that she always likes to look for a positive and at least her condition gives her plenty of time with some things she loves, books and reading.

Whenever I think about this it helps me to stop with the petty bitching about trivialities, for at least a brief stretch of time.