Monday, February 25, 2013

The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner

I begin work today with The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner. It's detailed as being a coming of age story for a young woman named Reno and the year is 1977. I enjoy coming of age stories because they are usually character driven works. As a reader, I like to identify with the protagonist and find ways I can relate to their struggle. It's always envigorating to see the growth of a person through a novel. They become our buddies and we want to see them succeed. I hope this novel won't let me down. This is the first I've read by Rachel Kushner but she isn't new to the publishing world. I look forward to seeing what this novel has in store for me.

Synopsis: The year is 1977 and Reno—so-called because of the place of her birth—has come to New York intent on turning her fascination with motorcycles and speed into art. Her arrival coincides with an explosion of activity in the art world—artists have colonized a deserted and industrial Soho, are squatting in the East Village, and blurring the line between life and art. Reno falls in with group of dreamers and raconteurs who submit her to a sentimental education of sorts. She begins an affair with an artist named Sandro Valera, the semi-estranged scion of an Italian tire and motorcycle empire. When they visit Sandro’s family home in Italy, Reno falls in with members of the radical movement that overtook Italy in 1977. Betrayal sends her reeling into a clandestine undertow.

The Flamethrowers is a fearless novel, an intensely engaging exploration of the mystique of the feminine, the fake, the terrorist. In the center of it all is Kushner’s brilliantly realized protagonist, a young woman on the verge.

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