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2022 NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK
The novelist, cultural critic, and indie icon serves up sometimes bitchy, always generous, erudite, and joyful assessments from the last thirty-five years of cutting edge film, art, and literature.
“One of the most important chroniclers of the modern psyche.” —The Guardian
Introduction by Christian Lorentzen
Whether he’s describing Tracy Emin or Warhol, the films of Barbet Schroeder (“Schroeder is well aware that life is not a narrative; that we impose form on the movements of chance, contingency, and impulse....”) or the installations of Barbara Kruger (“Kruger compresses the telling exchanges of lived experience that betray how skewed our lives are…”), Indiana is never just describing. His writing is refreshing, erudite, joyful.Indiana champions shining examples of literary and artistic merit regardless of whether the individual artist or writer is famous; asserts a standard of care and tradition that has nothing to do with the ivory tower establishment; is unafraid to deliver the coup de grâce when someone needs to say the emperor has no clothes; speaks in the same breath—in the same discerning, insolent, eloquent way—about high art and pop culture.
Few writers could get away with saying the things Gary Indiana does. And when the writing is this good, it’s also political, plus it’s a riot of fun on the page.Here is Gary Indiana on Euro Disney resort park in Marne-la-Valée outside of Paris:John Berger compares the art of Disney to that of Francis Bacon. He says that the same essential horror lurks in both, and that it springs from the viewer’s imagining: There is nothing else. Even as a child, I understood how unbearable it would be to be trapped inside a cartoon frame.
About the Author
GARY INDIANA is a novelist and critic who has chronicled the despair and hysteria of America in the late twentieth/early twenty-first century. From Horse Crazy (1989), a tale of feverish love set against the backdrop of downtown New York amid the AIDS epidemic, to Do Everything in the Dark (2003), "a desolate frieze of New York's aging bohemians" (n+1), Indiana's novels mix horror and bathos, grim social commentary with passages of tenderest, frailest desire. In 2015, Indiana published his acclaimed anti-memoir, I Can Give You Anything But Love, following it up in 2018 with Vile Days, a collection of his art criticism for the Village Voice. Called one of "the most brilliant critics writing in America today" by the London Review of Books, "the punk poet and pillar of lower-Manhattan society" by Jamaica Kincaid, and "one of the most important chroniclers of the modern psyche" by the Guardian, Gary Indiana remains both inimitable and impossible to pin down.
"Verbal artistry is in plentiful supply in this spirited collection of 39 essays in which critic Indiana (Horse Crazy) trains his eye on major court cases, politics, and pop culture. “Northern Exposure” is a look at the 1992 New Hampshire presidential primaries in which Indiana eviscerates the personae and platforms of Bill Clinton and Pat Buchanan (the latter summed up as a “belligerent turd at the podium with his socks falling down”) and notes Sen. Tom Harkin’s silent nonresponse to an anti-Semitic comment: “I cannot imagine Mario Cuomo or Jay Rockefeller letting such remarks just sit there in the room, just to grub a couple of votes.” “Murdering the Dead” takes down Steven Hodel’s argument in his bestselling Black Dahlia Avenger that his father killed Elizabeth Short: “It isn’t nice to drag a lot of famous dead people into your family muck.” Each entry is marked by vivid imagery and the author’s scathing, eloquent wit: “There is acid in everything Indiana writes, but it is of the sort that acts as a purifying agent,” Christian Lorentzen writes in the introduction, adding, “His essays are humane to the core.” Trenchant and thought-provoking, this is a great look at a gifted writer’s mind. (Apr.)"—Publishers Weekly
"Few writers are as keenly alive to absurdity or write with as sharp a pen as Gary Indiana, whose new essay collection, Fire Season (Seven Stories Press, $23.95), spans almost forty years of stellar criticism."—Claire Messud, Harper's
"Indiana’s hungry readers will devour these essays and lick their chops, feeling satisfied as they wait for more from him.”—Jennifer Krasinsky, 4Columns
"Since 1987, Indiana has published novels, nonfiction, plays, short stories — all with an unmistakable, sardonic voice embedded in the text…” —Los Angeles Times
"Indiana is viperous: he can strike fast, with a deadly venom apparent only once the laughter has subsided, or opt for slow constriction. "—Michael La Pointe, Times Literary Supplement
"Indiana’s reputation as mean is such an odd categorization for someone who is so capable of feeling the struggles of his subjects, to see their risk as his own."—Sasha Frere-Jones, Bookforum
"Throughout Fire Season, Indiana shows himself to be landscapist worthy of Bosch and a portraitist worthy of Francis Bacon: he paints with a rich palette of displeasures whose pigments range from the scatological to the refined. "—Ryan Ruby, New Left Review