Response to NY Review of Books article

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/jul/11/rachel-kushner-book-has-heat/?pagination=false

This is a link to a review of The Flamethrowers in the New York Review of Books. I read it initially just to see what it had to say, and it became useful and interesting to me for two reasons. First, it asks what we frequently ask in class: What is this book interested in? This was special to me because I particularly like that phrasing – to me, considering what a book is “interested in” allows me to arrive at some sort of response in a better way than trying to answer the question “What is this book’s theme?” The first phrasing allows for more tangible starting point for literary analysis, I think.  However, this article disappoints me by merely saying that the book seems interested in being made into a movie and by saying nothing about the motivations behind any of the choices made within the text (by the author and by the characters). In this way, the article was disappointing.

However, it does make an interesting point about “heat” in the novel.  It says that Kushner writes a novel “with heat but without warmth.” The reviewer, Seidel, seems to intend this as an insult, but I think it’s just a curious (and possibly meaningful) irony in the book. Kushner probably chose to leave warmth out of her novel, and that choice seems to me to be something worth questioning, not merely criticizing as inappropriate for the typical novel, as Seidel does.  Even though Seidel is entitled to an opinion on this novel, it seems a shame that he didn’t really reveal much insight about the book.  

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