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Let's discuss THE FLAMETHROWERS by Rachel Kushner

Set in New York, the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah and in politically turbulent Italy of the 1970s, this is a coming-of-age novel that examines speed and sex, the feminine and the fake, terrorism and the politics of fear, art and intellect, and what is real and not real -- all in brilliant language. The narrator is a woman in her early 20s (Reno) who comes to New York to turn her fascination with motorcycles into an art career. Critic James Wood from The New Yorker calls it "a contemporary rewriting of Flaubert's novel of 1969, "Sentimental Education" because both protagonists are infatuated by older men, and both books offer dense pictures of cities riven by political protest.

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  • Evelyn D.

    A good discussion by thoughtful people. Afterward, I found an excellent review by Christina Garcia in the NYT. Among other things, she says, "Kushner fearlessly tackles the bigger questions of what constitutes authenticity, voice, identity, class, pitting the aesthetics of wealth against the pragmatics of poverty. What can society afford, she seems to be asking. And where does art fit into the scheme of things? Are artists "those who are useless for anything else? Or is purpose closer to what Sandro believes: "Making art was really about the problem of the soul, of losing it. It was a technique for inhabiting the world. For not dissolving into it."
    Garcia, too as we did, complains about the romance which, she says, is "a rather dyspeptic affair .... [with] minimal heat or magnetism between them ..."
    I apologize for not having read reviews before our meeting.

    November 26, 2014

  • Evelyn D.

    Please note change of venue! Flyleaf had a conflict on our meeting date so we've moved our session to the Chapel Hill Public Library Meeting Room C.

    November 7, 2014

  • Rich

    I believe the following review of "The Landing" now at the Deep Dish Theater may be of interest to Flyleaf Book Club members:

    Sometimes classical music fans enjoy a symphony concert, and at other times a chamber music concert of Beethoven’s “late quartets”. Sometimes it is great to see a large-scale musical on Broadway or on tour at DPAC, and enjoy the big, hummable songs and big dance numbers, but it is also delightful to see a work such as The Landing, a set of three small jewels now at the Deep Dish Theater. For this work, John Kander, who wrote the music for Cabaret and Chicago, has now brought us a chamber musical. At the Deep Dish we see four musicians accompanying four actors playing different roles in three short works. Instead of bringing us another big musical, 86-year-old John Kander has brought us his own late quartets.

    November 6, 2014

  • Rich

    Last year Kander teamed up with 35-year-old playwright Greg Pierce to bring us The Landing in New York. This fall, Paul Frellick of Deep Dish Theater is staging The Landing for its second time. Paul Frellick’s direction is spare, clean, and not self-indulgent. What adds to the stories’ poignancy is the use of the unamplified instruments and voices.

    One of the themes of the three stories is that of loneliness and the longing -- and need -- for companionship of different kinds. You will also find common themes among the three stories made clear in the third play, but that each has its own unique twist.

    November 6, 2014

  • Rich

    The acting is all top-level. In the second, Mark Ridenour gives an extraordinary performance. Yet he still gives actress Erin Tito enough room to perform amazingly in what is the lead role. With disciplined acting, the second story is a well-crafted example of the theater of the absurd. Equal to the first two actors – and giving us an acting clinic of his own -- is John Allore in a series of small cameos (some of which are stunning) and well as principal roles. The three actors work well-together with performances by thirteen-year-old Neil Bullard that are also quite good. Under Frellick’s direction, the ensemble plays well together in all three chamber musicals.

    In the future, playwright Greg Pierce could certainly write larger-scale plays or musical dramas. But many of us would also be delighted if he and Kander kept working on their own, small-scale works until Kander is 96.

    Don’t miss “The Landing” at the Deep Dish Theater. Its three chamber musicals are jewels.

    November 6, 2014

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