The Hard Crowd by Rachel Kushner

A career-spanning collection of spectacular essays about politics and culture.

Rachel Kushner has established herself as a master of the essay form. In The Hard Crowd, she gathers a selection of her writing from over the course of the last twenty years that addresses the most pressing political, artistic, and cultural issues of our times—and illuminates the themes and real-life terrain that underpin her fiction.

In nineteen razor-sharp essays, The Hard Crowd spans literary journalism, memoir, cultural criticism, and writing about art and literature, including pieces on Jeff Koons, Denis Johnson, and Marguerite Duras. Kushner takes us on a journey through a Palestinian refugee camp, an illegal motorcycle race down the Baja Peninsula, 1970s wildcat strikes in Fiat factories, her love of classic cars, and her young life in the music scene of her hometown, San Francisco. The closing, eponymous essay is her manifesto on nostalgia, doom, and writing.
These pieces, new and old, are electric, phosphorescently vivid, and wry, and they provide an opportunity to witness the evolution and range of one of our most dazzling and fearless writers.

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I often hid in the garage after I was kicked outside to play on summer days.

GIRL ON A MOTORCYCLE

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(@JonathanCape, 8 April 2021, 272 pages, ebook, copy from the publisher via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed)

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This is a new author for me. It seems strange to start a new author reading a collection of essays but I enjoy this format and I decided to have a read. I thought these essays were excellent, covering a wide range of subjects, some more personal to the author such as their own memories and life experiences and some which tackle much larger issues and some which fall into the category of literary criticism. Each essay was different so didn’t feel repetitive. I wanted to keep reading when I reached the final essay, The Hard Crowd. I will definitely check out her fiction.

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