• print • June/July/Aug 2022

    Artful Volumes

    Like a mixtape, a Steve Keene painting is meant to be passed hand to hand, with affection. He’s been giving them away, or selling them for a song, going on thirty years. Keene, an artist who estimates 300,000 works to his name, came up indie-rock adjacent, pals with Pavement. Like that band’s best albums, Keene’s art is poppy, bright, deliberately unkempt, slyly confrontational, and super “college.” His subjects include founding fathers, LPs, astronauts, and so much more, but who can keep up? He’s got theories about fast technique, and what it means to be so prolific and cheap, but he doesn’t

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  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    Quite Contrary

    IN A RECENT PIECE FOR GAWKER, “Gary Indiana Hates in Order to Love,” Paul McAdory looked at how the writer makes affective intensities cooperate. “Indiana’s greatness,” McAdory wrote, “rests partly on his ability to fling aside the sheer curtains partitioning love from hate and extract a superior pleasure from their mixture.” It may be bad form to quote a parallel review of the book I’m looking at—Fire Season, a collection of essays stretching back to 1991—or maybe it’s just confusing to do so without going into attack mode. Sorry, odiophiliacs! I want to simply agree with McAdory’s essay and

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  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    Mixed Doubles

    IN 1974, Elaine Sturtevant slipped out of the art world to play tennis with a man whose serve she couldn’t return. She said little about her decade-long departure from art, either about why she left or what she did during that period—“I was writing, thinking, playing tennis, and carrying on.” The American artist, best known for “repeating” major works by major men, had already proven herself a genius in the game of doubles. Let them catch up, she said, and switched to a game with different rules but similar design. 

    Like fellow genius and tennis freak Anna Kavan, whose midlife adoption of her

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  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    Flair Play

    THERE’S ONE GOOD FOLDER on my computer desktop. “Images,” its title reads, opaquely, enticingly. Inside, one can find a curated compendium of visual curios, pop-culture bric-a-brac, and internet detritus: a mud-speckled Sidney Poitier adjusting his amber motocross goggles in a still from 1973’s A Warm December; an uncanny stock image of a smiling, multiracial group of men and women standing in V-formation against an antiseptic white backdrop. A recent favorite is a Walter Iooss Jr. photograph of former Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star outfielder Dave Parker smoking a cigarette in the dugout during

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  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    The Year of Magic Thinking

    AS THE NEW YORK YANKEES remain baseball’s Unavoidable Fact, even when mediocre, so have the Los Angeles Lakers been nearly impossible for basketball fans to escape, despite having just completed one of their most maladroit seasons in recent memory. (For the benefit of those who neither know nor care, this year’s edition finished 33–49, even with reigning-if-aging superstar-in-chief LeBron James on the roster.) The reasons for the Lakers’ omnipresence are not obscure: even casual sports fans know how dominant the Lakers franchise has been in the global pop-cultural psyche since the 1980s, when

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  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    The Running of the Bulls

    MIDWAY THROUGH GRADUATE SCHOOL, I started to dislike reading. I spent my days skimming academic articles and my evenings skimming novels in search of quotes for my dissertation. I turned to television: sitcoms and basketball. When I developed insomnia, I returned to books—books about basketball.

    Like many in my generation, I had long been fascinated by Michael Jordan. I grew up in Jamaica and so knew nothing of American sports during the Bulls’ 1990s championship runs. But I had seen the highlights, the insulting flash of his pink tongue, and the way gravity bent around his body. And I had

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  • review • May 31, 2022

    The summer issue is online now!

    At the height of the pandemic, sports stadiums took on an eerie quality: they became so quiet. It was a stark reminder of the symbiotic relationship between star athletes and fans. If a great goal is scored and no one cheers, does it even exist? It must, because we still watched from afar, and were moved by those roarless games. And as stadiums reopened, the hunger for sports—and the connections and rivalries among fans—proved to be as strong as ever. Following our favorite teams, we obsess, we admire, and we are disappointed, because even the best players can’t win them all. In a special

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  • excerpt • May 10, 2022

    Sick Time

    Sickness narratives do not always start with symptoms and end in recovery. Treatment does not always follow test. A new diagnosis might arrive at any time, or never. Sick time is not linear time. It is circular. It lapses and relapses, it drags, loops and buffers. 

    I desired a singular narrative but the form, with its need to end in a place it did not begin, refused to accept my version of events. I originally proposed an order that followed the medical narrative that started with “Symptoms” and ended in “Recovery,” hoping to “recover” illness from “Cure.” My version resisted order, or could

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  • review • April 26, 2022

    A Story of Supernatural Kindness

    In 1994, poet Fanny Howe was travelling in the UK and working intermittently. She spun this experience into London-rose, a poetic and philosophic meditation on alienation, labor, and everyday life. The book is being published for the first time this month by Semiotext(e). Below is a brief dispatch from her journey. —The Editors  

    Been on the road for days—Hull, Sheffield, here—visiting liaison people, long drives through mottled Yorkshire snowing. One action follows or leads to another, always ending in the smelly cold B&Bs, now in Sheffield, caught in traffic for three hours at night. Over

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  • review • April 21, 2022

    Net Loss

    The first four nodes of ARPANET—the Department of Defense’s primeval internet—were connected in 1969, the very year that Theodor W. Adorno died. In retrospect, it seems a cruel coincidence; it is difficult to imagine a cultural technology more deserving of Adorno’s truculent analysis than the internet, or to locate a comparable living thinker able to explain why a worldwide network that was supposed to unite everyone and improve everything tremors with feelings of disconnection and debasement.

    The beginning of Justin E. H. Smith’s new book reads as if it might deliver this lost critique, given

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  • excerpt • March 08, 2022

    An excerpt from Body Work on memoir, love, and writing to find a new narrative

    There is a conventional wisdom about memoir that claims a writer must have sufficient hindsight in order to write meaningfully about her past. This has not been my experience. All that has been required of me to write about something is this change of heart. A shift toward, or away, or perhaps a desire to return to some truer version of myself. I don’t even have to know that I’ve made it, but when I look back at the beginnings of everything I’ve ever written, there it is. 

    I recently reread Natasha Trethewey’s exquisite memoir, Memorial Drive, in which she explores her mother’s murder by an

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  • review • March 01, 2022

    Our spring issue is online now!

    Welcome to the Mar/Apr/May 2022 issue of Bookforum! In this edition, our contributors review new novels by Sheila Heti, Alejandro Zambra, Claire-Louise Bennett, and more, as well as newly reissued works by Kay Dick and Yūko Tsushima. The film critic A. S. Hamrah considers how director Billy Wilder bested the twentieth century, Sasha Frere-Jones reflects on essayist Lucy Sante’s inquisitive oeuvre, Harmony Holiday writes about the late hip-hop producer J Dilla’s poetics, and so much more. Read the issue online here, and consider signing up for or gifting a subscription.

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