"The Flame Throwers" by Rachel Kushner

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"The Flame Throwers" by Rachel Kushner

17.00

From Cristina García's NYT Review for this 2013 National Book Award finalist:

In “The Flamethrowers,” her frequently dazzling second novel, Rachel Kushner thrusts us into the white-hot center of the 1970s conceptual art world, motorcycle racing, upper-class Italy and the rampant kidnappings and terrorism that plagued it. It’s an irresistible, high-octane mix — and a departure from the steamier pleasures of her critically acclaimed first novel, “Telex From Cuba.” The language is equally gorgeous, however, and Kushner’s insights into place, society and the complicated rules of belonging, and unbelonging, can be mordantly brilliant. None of the characters in “The Flamethrowers” are quite what they seem, fabricating pasts as nonchalantly as they throw together their art. Above all, they hunger to be seen, to distinguish themselves from the ordinary... At the heart of “The Flamethrowers” is Reno, a young artist from Nevada who, after a childhood of downhill skiing and racing dirt bikes, moves to New York with the vague idea of making it in the art world. “It was an irony but a fact that a person had to move to New York City first, to become an artist of the West.” She is beautiful, of course, and lonely, and not a little lost, spending the better part of her first Sundays in the city watching the chauffeured limousines of Mafia bosses, “lined up like bars of obsidian-black soap,” clogging the street in front of her Little Italy tenement. Reno is a modern Henry James heroine — a rough-riding Daisy Miller, say — who wanders far from home and submits to what turns out to be a very unsentimental education at the hands of reputed sophisticates."

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