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A brilliant, funny, and emphatically raw novel of love on the brink of the apocalypse, from the acclaimed author of The Lonely City. "She had no idea what to do with love, she experienced it as invasion, as the prelude to loss and pain, she really didn’t have a clue." Kathy is a writer. Kathy is getting married. It’s the summer of 2017 and the whole world is falling apart. F A brilliant, funny, and emphatically raw novel of love on the brink of the apocalypse, from the acclaimed author of The Lonely City. "She had no idea what to do with love, she experienced it as invasion, as the prelude to loss and pain, she really didn’t have a clue." Kathy is a writer. Kathy is getting married. It’s the summer of 2017 and the whole world is falling apart. Fast-paced and frantic, Crudo unfolds in real time from the full-throttle perspective of a commitment-phobic artist who may or may not be Kathy Acker. From a Tuscan hotel for the superrich to a Brexit-paralyzed United Kingdom, Kathy spends the first summer of her forties adjusting to the idea of a lifelong commitment. But it’s not only Kathy who’s changing. Fascism is on the rise, truth is dead, the planet is heating up, and Trump is tweeting the world ever-closer to nuclear war. How do you make art, let alone a life, when one rogue tweet could end it all? In Crudo, her first work of fiction, Olivia Laing radically rewires the novel with a fierce, compassionate account of learning to love when the end of the world seems near.


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A brilliant, funny, and emphatically raw novel of love on the brink of the apocalypse, from the acclaimed author of The Lonely City. "She had no idea what to do with love, she experienced it as invasion, as the prelude to loss and pain, she really didn’t have a clue." Kathy is a writer. Kathy is getting married. It’s the summer of 2017 and the whole world is falling apart. F A brilliant, funny, and emphatically raw novel of love on the brink of the apocalypse, from the acclaimed author of The Lonely City. "She had no idea what to do with love, she experienced it as invasion, as the prelude to loss and pain, she really didn’t have a clue." Kathy is a writer. Kathy is getting married. It’s the summer of 2017 and the whole world is falling apart. Fast-paced and frantic, Crudo unfolds in real time from the full-throttle perspective of a commitment-phobic artist who may or may not be Kathy Acker. From a Tuscan hotel for the superrich to a Brexit-paralyzed United Kingdom, Kathy spends the first summer of her forties adjusting to the idea of a lifelong commitment. But it’s not only Kathy who’s changing. Fascism is on the rise, truth is dead, the planet is heating up, and Trump is tweeting the world ever-closer to nuclear war. How do you make art, let alone a life, when one rogue tweet could end it all? In Crudo, her first work of fiction, Olivia Laing radically rewires the novel with a fierce, compassionate account of learning to love when the end of the world seems near.

30 review for Crudo

  1. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    Without a doubt one of the most thought provoking books about ‘now’ I have read. Imagine Maggie Nelson wrote a novella about the summer of 2017 and discussed Trump, Brexit, Korea, gender, identity, sexuality, icebergs, mass wildlife decimation and all through a women just about to marry for the third time. And you’ve kind of got the gist.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Blair

    Kathy, by which I mean I, was getting married, goes the first line of Crudo. By means of references to her books, this first/third-person narrator clarifies that she is, or is talking about, Kathy Acker. And that it is specifically 19:45 on 13 May 2017. In this way, Crudo presents a challenge and a mystery on its very first page, since Acker died in 1997. Laing herself, on the other hand, did, as the character does, turn 40 and get married in 2017. Many other details point to the story being sem Kathy, by which I mean I, was getting married, goes the first line of Crudo. By means of references to her books, this first/third-person narrator clarifies that she is, or is talking about, Kathy Acker. And that it is specifically 19:45 on 13 May 2017. In this way, Crudo presents a challenge and a mystery on its very first page, since Acker died in 1997. Laing herself, on the other hand, did, as the character does, turn 40 and get married in 2017. Many other details point to the story being semi-autobiographical – for example, a scene in which Kathy eats Hummingbird Bakery cupcakes with an artist named Chantal is also described in a factual piece Laing wrote for the Guardian about sitting for her friend, the painter Chantal Joffre. So the protagonist is clearly the author, but also, somehow, impossibly, Kathy Acker. Crudo is like I Love Dick meets Ali Smith's Autumn. The UK and US politics of summer 2017, the twin shockwaves of Trump and Brexit still reverberating, act as an unpleasant backdrop. It's written as a rapid-fire stream-of-consciousness and, when it hits the right rhythm, it can soar and thrill: She'd just swum round the ruins of the West Pier, she was giving off some kind of wild energy, a person who didn't give a fuck about personal safety or concealed dangers. She still remembered how it felt to reach open water, the way her body was tugged and slammed, the sense she'd had of a vast metal skeleton just below the surface, girders poking up like fork prongs. Beneath her the sea, beneath her a mountain with its own armada of creamy cloud. By writing scenes that take place as events unfold and pieces of news are passed around faster than people can process them, Laing effectively captures the confusion of living in turbulent times. But Crudo isn't about anything aside from a few months of Kathy's life – getting married, yes, and also socialising, going on holiday, thinking about buying a new flat. Middle-class banalities, however much of an arty sheen they might possess. My first encounter with Laing was The Lonely City in 2016. Like many others, I adored that book, and I hold much of what it had to say very close to my heart. It felt more disorientating than it perhaps should, then, to vaguely dislike Crudo's Kathy. I know there's a logic to it – loneliness is as close to a universal experience as you can get; marriage, expensive holidays and hanging out with illustrious friends are not – but I felt some disappointment nevertheless. At points, there are flashes of the insight I so cherished in The Lonely City: You think you know yourself inside out when you live alone, but you don't, you believe you are a calm untroubled or at worst melancholic person, you do not realise how irritable you are, how any little thing, the wrong kind of touch or tone, a lack of speed in answering a question, a particular cast of expression will send you into apoplexy because you are unchill, because you have not learnt how to soften your borders, how to make room. You're selfish and rigid and absorbed, you're like an infant. If I was meant to finish Crudo with an understanding of why Laing had cast Acker as herself, or herself as Acker, or imagined Acker time-travelling to 2017 and taking her place, I must've missed something. Then again, I haven't read any of Acker's work, I don't know that much about her, and it's entirely possible something – a lot of things – went over my head here. (But I also don't think a work of fiction should require you to have complex intertextual knowledge to get what it's saying?) And I don't really understand why this story had to be told as a novel rather than, say, a feature-length autobiographical piece. It's a witty touch that the title is Italian for 'raw', but it seems to me that this term encapsulates both the strengths and the weaknesses of Crudo. It's a good thing, an appropriate thing, that it feels urgent and unfiltered – rage and terror and joy glittering through. It's also hard not to see it as rushed and to some degree indulgent; to wonder whether this would have got a book deal if written by an unknown. I received an advance review copy of Crudo from the publisher through NetGalley. TinyLetter | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr

  3. 4 out of 5

    Joachim Stoop

    3,5. 4,5. There is no solid ground anymore. The now is build on quicksand in swamp area. 2,1. What the hell is she talking about 0,5. Nailed it 5. 3,5. 4,5. 2,5. 2,5. 3,5. 2. 1. 3. 4. 4,5. 3,5. 5. That's exactly as I feel 6. Lost you 1. Ok 3. Lost you again 1,5. Preach! 5. Focus Joachim focus 3. Sign o the times 4,5. 2. 3,5. 3,7. 3,8. Not again 2. Fuck Trump 5. Cusk is better 2. Ali Smith is sometimes similar 3. Tweets used in lit 4,5. Lost me. 1 Why this description 2. Unclear. Continue 3 Yes 4 This chaotic, neurotic, vague, over t 3,5. 4,5. There is no solid ground anymore. The now is build on quicksand in swamp area. 2,1. What the hell is she talking about 0,5. Nailed it 5. 3,5. 4,5. 2,5. 2,5. 3,5. 2. 1. 3. 4. 4,5. 3,5. 5. That's exactly as I feel 6. Lost you 1. Ok 3. Lost you again 1,5. Preach! 5. Focus Joachim focus 3. Sign o the times 4,5. 2. 3,5. 3,7. 3,8. Not again 2. Fuck Trump 5. Cusk is better 2. Ali Smith is sometimes similar 3. Tweets used in lit 4,5. Lost me. 1 Why this description 2. Unclear. Continue 3 Yes 4 This chaotic, neurotic, vague, over the top, pre-apocalyptic book is the quintessential novel of our time 4,5. Missed opportunity 2,5. Unpleasant reading experience 2. Unpleasant times 4. Overall: closer to 4 than to 3. For now...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Gorgeously written...with tenderness - intriguingly unique -compassion- and inspiring humanity. “Evil was a subject of interest for Kathy, she wasn’t squeamish, she worked years in a strip joint in time square, she knew about appetite and dead eyes”. ...... This modern woman’s inner voice was grappling with fears - anxieties- questioning love-life- happiness - and salvation. ‘Every page’ has narrative that jolts our senses. I read this right after seeing Michael Moore’s new film, “Fahrenheit 11/9”. Gorgeously written...with tenderness - intriguingly unique -compassion- and inspiring humanity. “Evil was a subject of interest for Kathy, she wasn’t squeamish, she worked years in a strip joint in time square, she knew about appetite and dead eyes”. ...... This modern woman’s inner voice was grappling with fears - anxieties- questioning love-life- happiness - and salvation. ‘Every page’ has narrative that jolts our senses. I read this right after seeing Michael Moore’s new film, “Fahrenheit 11/9”... feeling the weight of the world throughout every inch of my body and soul.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jerrie (redwritinghood)

    At the risk of sounding old, I’m not liking the recent spate of stream-of-consciousnesses novels. They make me feel like the author just threw up all over me. The style aside, this book gives some interesting commentary on the current state of the world and the urgency and helplessness a lot of people are feeling. 2.5⭐️

  6. 5 out of 5

    Melki

    In Italian, crudo [ˈkruːdo] means "raw." Was this getting older? Kathy was worried about aging. She hadn't realized youth wasn't a permanent state, that she wouldn't always be cute and hopeless and forgivable. She wasn't stupid, she was just greedy: she wanted it always to be the first time. When she thought about the people she'd populated her youth with she cringed. She could have made it so much more glamorous, so much more debonair, she needn't have had a bowl cut, she needn't have worn dung In Italian, crudo [ˈkruːdo] means "raw." Was this getting older? Kathy was worried about aging. She hadn't realized youth wasn't a permanent state, that she wouldn't always be cute and hopeless and forgivable. She wasn't stupid, she was just greedy: she wanted it always to be the first time. When she thought about the people she'd populated her youth with she cringed. She could have made it so much more glamorous, so much more debonair, she needn't have had a bowl cut, she needn't have worn dungarees, the minutes were passing, she'd failed to get a death-grip on time. I've been sitting on this review for quite a while now, as I'm having trouble putting into words why I liked this book so much. Essentially, this is a book about a woman dealing with life and modern problems. And, her ramblings are anything BUT inane. Though I can't recall if love is ever mentioned, she marries, but holy matrimony doesn't turn out to be the blissful experience she had desired: Marriage hadn't solved anything. Even though she's approaching middle-age, a phase of life when many are settled, and resigned to a quiet existence, she's restless, and dissatisfied: She was bored, she wanted novelty and heat, she wanted to unhook herself. She offers up tart commentary on current events: Houston had flooded, there were photographs of a care home in which several residents in wheelchairs, elderly black women, were up to their chests in dirty brown water. The President was on it, he was using a full arsenal of exclamation marks. And, plenty of lines made me laugh: She was indeterminate and oversexed, a hot chrysalis, if she'd had a dick you better believe it would be perfect, at least as good as David Bowie's. This one is probably not for everyone, as I'm guessing many readers will not like Laing's Kathy. I'm not sure if I like Kathy or not: I feel that I never really got to know her, though I enjoyed reading her thoughts, and frequently nodded in agreement as I was reading. And, you know, I was never, EVER bored.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Hugh

    Shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize 2018 I must admit to having been a little apprehensive about reading this book, as its main inspiration Kathy Acker is not somebody I know much about, but the more I read of this, the more I liked it. The main protagonist is a post-modern mash-up in which the late Acker's personality inhabits Laing's life over a four month period in 2017, a period in which Laing turned 40, got married and wrote this book, while getting increasingly distracted by the destruct Shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize 2018 I must admit to having been a little apprehensive about reading this book, as its main inspiration Kathy Acker is not somebody I know much about, but the more I read of this, the more I liked it. The main protagonist is a post-modern mash-up in which the late Acker's personality inhabits Laing's life over a four month period in 2017, a period in which Laing turned 40, got married and wrote this book, while getting increasingly distracted by the destructive political shenanigans of Trump, the alt right and Brexit. This works surprisingly well, and the results are often funny and incisive. There is a helpful list of quotes, mostly from Acker but also from Trump and other twitterati, but there are no marks in the main text to highlight them. I was reminded of Rachel Cusk's trilogy at times - there are plenty of reported conversations with random strangers (all much shorter than most of Cusk's), but instead of annihilating her perspective (and personality), Laing allows it to be subsumed by Acker's spirit and fearless iconoclasm.

  8. 5 out of 5

    lucky little cat

    So. I've been reading stream-of-consciousness fiction off and on again since 1979 Uh-oh Leonard Bernstein and yeah some novels are clearly more rewarding than others but the kind of story I find least lovable of all is the extended riff of a shallow but worried character baring her inch-deep all in an endless hipster confession that reads like a poser-nudnik's New Yorker short story indulgently stretched to 150 pages. James Joyce this ain't. Abandoned with relief at 42%. Really. So. I've been reading stream-of-consciousness fiction off and on again since 1979 Uh-oh Leonard Bernstein and yeah some novels are clearly more rewarding than others but the kind of story I find least lovable of all is the extended riff of a shallow but worried character baring her inch-deep all in an endless hipster confession that reads like a poser-nudnik's New Yorker short story indulgently stretched to 150 pages. James Joyce this ain't. Abandoned with relief at 42%. Really.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sian Lile-Pastore

    I did not care for this. I couldn't really get past Laing kinda pretending she was Kathy Acker. The whole Kathy Acker thing made no sense to me - why are we pretending Acker is alive? and then if we were going along with it being Kathy Acker aged 40, how we were then meant to believe she was friends with loads of people who died during the aids crises when she would only have been about 10? I know that its a novel and that anything can happen really, but I was completely unconvinced by the whole I did not care for this. I couldn't really get past Laing kinda pretending she was Kathy Acker. The whole Kathy Acker thing made no sense to me - why are we pretending Acker is alive? and then if we were going along with it being Kathy Acker aged 40, how we were then meant to believe she was friends with loads of people who died during the aids crises when she would only have been about 10? I know that its a novel and that anything can happen really, but I was completely unconvinced by the whole decision. Aside from the Kathy Acker thing - it was just all so bourgeois - all the stuff, the travel, the awards, the food, the champagne! I also hated the smug referencing - how she goes to Chantal's studio to see her paintings of mothers and daughters. just say you went to Chantal Joffe's studio instead of making us guess, or making us feel smugly good about getting an art reference! I have enjoyed some of Laing's non-fiction, but I just found this without any warmth or heart, instead trying to be all clever and cool and current. I started it and probably should have put it down, but as it was short I continued.... and I admit, I hate-read the rest of it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer

    This is a book about immediacy and Twitter, so it seems appropriate that the day after I read it, I saw via a tweet that it had been nominated for the 2018 Goldsmith Prize. I have subsequently re read the book. It was uncomputable, it was the province of the novel, that hopeless apparatus of guesswork and supposition, with which Kathy liked to have as little traffic as possible. She wrote fiction, sure, but she populated it with the already extant, the pre packaged and ready made. She was in This is a book about immediacy and Twitter, so it seems appropriate that the day after I read it, I saw via a tweet that it had been nominated for the 2018 Goldsmith Prize. I have subsequently re read the book. It was uncomputable, it was the province of the novel, that hopeless apparatus of guesswork and supposition, with which Kathy liked to have as little traffic as possible. She wrote fiction, sure, but she populated it with the already extant, the pre packaged and ready made. She was in many ways Warhol’s daughter, niece at least, a grave robber, a bandit, happy to snatch what she needed but also morally invested in the cause; that there was no need to invent, you could make anything from out of the overflowing midden of the already done, The as Beckett out it nothing new, it was economic also stylish to help yourself to the grab bag of the actual. In the Summer of 2017 the non-fiction author, art critic and gender-fluid Olivia Laing went on a luxury holiday to Italy with the poet Ian Patterson, twenty years her senior and soon to be her husband (much to her surprise as she has assumed a solitary life and indeed written about loneliness is her best know book The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone). There she: Struggled with the concept of intimacy and companionship and her upcoming wedding - a wedding whose planning was looking through pictures on Instagram and making unkind comments Followed via Twitter events, particularly in the US around Trump, the resurge of fascism and the alt-right; Failed to make headway on a non-fiction book about bodies, violence and protest – partly as she felt a considered a thoughtful and reflective non-fiction book could simply not capture the chaos of world events that Summer; Read, for a review, Chris Kraus’s biography of the punk writer Kathy Acker (After Kathy Acker: A Biography) and was inspired by the way in which Acker plagarised other people’s writings and lives; Drank alcohol (the link between creativity and alcohol being the subject of her The Trip to Echo Spring); Reflected on Ali Smith’s Seasonal quartet – Ali Smith’s partner Sarah Wood being Olivia Laing’s cousin and Olivia Laing having written one of the widest quoted reviews and interviews around Autumn (https://www.theguardian.com/books/201...) and the way in which it relies on the speeding up of publication process to capture near-contemporary events. On August 1st, Laing, an inveterate contributor to as well as consumer of Twitter tweeted Tipsy over dinner, I have come up with a quartet of novels which I am going to write in the first year of the next four decades This is the first of those novels – written (other than in the opening two sentences Kathy, by which I mean I, was getting married. Kathy, by which I mean I, had just got off a plane from New York) in the third person voice of Kathy Acker – a Kathy Acker though who (despite her death years earlier) is living through the Summer of 2017 and who is copiously plagarising the life of Olivia Laing herself. The novel was written in a raw form (hence the book’s title) on a daily basis over seven weeks – with minimal revisiting and editing, as Laing imagines how Acker might describe both her own life and feelings as well as the art (and articles about art) she consumes and how Acker might react to world events (of course based on how Laing herself is reacting) while Laing herself plagarises from Acker’s own life and writing. Unlike Acker she sets out her sources in an extensive appendix, titled in a tip to the centrality of her marriage to the story “Something Borrowed” : the Blue of course being provided in Acker’s language, and the New and Old in the form of the novel itself, both innovative (the inside cover blurb claims Laing “rewires the novel”) and yet in the very tradition of a novel (a writer drawing on their own experience to write about others). Certainly this is an interesting experiment and also with lots of small clever touches. Just as one example in a digression on Diana When she decided to leak her story, she couldn’t believe it was not possible for the book to be printed the next day, that’s pretty funny but also understandable thought Kathy, who had also railed over publishing lead times A clear nod to the Ali Smith inspiration for the novel. Or there is what initially seems a dig at Rachel Cusk as Kathy reads a New Yorker article about Cusk (albeit with Cusk or the New Yorker not identified in this book - but a quick Google search reveals the source and subject of the article) and her imaginary oral histories .. exquisitely attuned to the ways in which humans victimise each other. The article particularly annoys Kathy due to its trivial comparison of nuclear families to nuclear disaster, and Kathy goes on to decry the author’s (Cusk’s ) concentration on bourgeoisie lives. However this apparent dig has, I think, to be reinterpreted given Laing’s own apparent appreciation of Cusk’s work, her borrowing from some of her techniques in this very novel, and her own comparison in this very book of the 2017 American/Korean nuclear tension to the (Game of Thrones) Red Wedding. UPDATE: I am no longer sure this dig does have to be re-interpreted. Offset against that though so much of the book appeared superficial – both in the incestuous, arty world it portrays and in the level of the analysis of world events. The inevitable comparison to Ali Smith’s quartet, while actively invited by Laing, do not I think reflect well on Laing's book on both counts. At times the level of arty insularity and self absorption can be a little ridiculous. Set alongside a throaway treatment of some US political development which mainly consists of everyone checking their twitter feeds, we will then have the author Laing writing how the author Acker would react to an article the author Laing reads by another author commenting on a different author’s work But ultimately that superficiality is I guess a key part of this book – which should perhaps be seen as Autumn/Winter written by and for the Twitter generation. The last numbered page, in my copy at least, is page 140.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Meike

    Now Nominated for the Goldsmiths Prize 2018 Did Olivia Laing just invent the "biographical pastiche"? In "Crudo", she cross-fades her life with the life of punk rock author and feminist icon Kathy Acker, not only remixing biographical facts, but also emulating Acker's signature rawness and radical openness to meditate about our current state of affairs. Our protagonist is 40-year-old "Kathy", and the story, set in 2017, is a snapshot of her life shortly before and after her wedding day - Kathy ma Now Nominated for the Goldsmiths Prize 2018 Did Olivia Laing just invent the "biographical pastiche"? In "Crudo", she cross-fades her life with the life of punk rock author and feminist icon Kathy Acker, not only remixing biographical facts, but also emulating Acker's signature rawness and radical openness to meditate about our current state of affairs. Our protagonist is 40-year-old "Kathy", and the story, set in 2017, is a snapshot of her life shortly before and after her wedding day - Kathy marries a man 29 years her senior. The real Kathy Acker died in 1997, and while she was married twice, she never married after her 30th birthday nor a much older man. Olivia Laing did, though: Her husband, poet and Cambridge professor Ian Patterson (https://twitter.com/paftersnu?lang=de), is in his late 60s, and she married him around her 40th birthday. Throughout the story, there are many hints and clues pointing to real events in Acker's life - in the acknowledgements, Laing thanks Chris Kraus and refers to her book After Kathy Acker: A Biography, a text that made it a lot easier for me to appreciate what Laing does in her book. Laing also gives a list in which she references the texts by Acker, the tweets and other source material that she has used (while Acker often worked with cut-up techniques, she would never have referenced her sources :-)). But why mix up those two lives like that? Laing seems to admire Acker's radical willingness to throw herself into life, to take no prisoners, her eagerness to wade through all the depths and reach the highest highs. By confronting her fictional "Kathy" with the overwhelming simaultaneousness of current events, propelled by social media, and the growing racism in Trump's America and Britain in the time of Brexit, she uses Acker's sensitivity to highlight her points. Two crucial situations in the book underline this: At one point, "Kathy" contemplates that people have to first be numbed so they will allow terrible atrocities to happen; later, when trying to open the shell of a crab, she thinks about the fact that she also wants to be open, without a shell, to bear witness as a poet (if you look closely, the hardcover edition has a small crab on the inside of the front cover, and a small hammer on the inside of the back cover). I think this experimental text is extremely well thought-out and executed, the only reason why I deducted a star is because I personally did not particularly enjoy the writing style, but that is a very subjective assessment. I guess the book will soon be nominated for some literary prizes, and rightly so.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Maxwell

    Did not connect with this at all. Any longer and I would have quit reading it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    But_i_thought_

    Alas, this book wasn't for me. Told in the voice of a narrator who may or may not be Kathy Acker (an experimental writer and feminist icon who died in 1997), this book is a stream-of-consciousness thought dump, taking place in the summer of 2017. The narrator spends her days doing mostly nothing – sunbathing in hotels for the super-rich, getting on and off planes, socializing, fretting about her upcoming wedding - while compulsively consuming the news – mostly about Trump and North Korea, Brexit Alas, this book wasn't for me. Told in the voice of a narrator who may or may not be Kathy Acker (an experimental writer and feminist icon who died in 1997), this book is a stream-of-consciousness thought dump, taking place in the summer of 2017. The narrator spends her days doing mostly nothing – sunbathing in hotels for the super-rich, getting on and off planes, socializing, fretting about her upcoming wedding - while compulsively consuming the news – mostly about Trump and North Korea, Brexit, the rise of Neo-Nazis, climate change. Stylistically, this book has been compared to Maggie Nelson’s book, The Argonauts. However, while Nelson attacks her topics with intellectual, almost academic, ferocity, this book merely flits from topic to topic, giving each the scope and attention span of a tweet. It does not illuminate or stimulate. Instead, the narrator, though privileged, finds lots to complain about, while wallowing in a state of chronic irritation. Here an excerpt: “You think you know yourself inside out when you live alone, but you don’t, you believe you are a calm untroubled or at worst melancholic person, you do not realise how irritable you are, how any little thing, the wrong kind of touch or tone, a lack of speed in answering a question, a particular cast of expression will send you into apoplexy because you are unchill.” To me, this book felt hollow, neurotic, solipsistic, self-indulgent. It left me with a sense of the meaninglessness of life, the futility of hope, and the rigid selfishness of humanity. Not recommended. Mood: Irritable Rating: 2/10 Also on Instagram.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Barry Pierce

    honestly wish this were 600+ pages

  15. 5 out of 5

    Maddie

    Rating: 2,5 Somehow, Kathy Acker, the punk-rock author and feminist icon of the 80s who died in 1997, survived to witness our days and use social media. Except, actually, it’s not really Kathy Acker but Olivia Laing herself, if we dare look into all the autobiographical clues the text of Crudo presents to us: Kathy is marrying for the third time to a man twenty-nine years a senior, who is also a writer. That is, in fact, not the story of Kathy Acker, the deceased icon, but of Olivia Laing, who ma Rating: 2,5 Somehow, Kathy Acker, the punk-rock author and feminist icon of the 80s who died in 1997, survived to witness our days and use social media. Except, actually, it’s not really Kathy Acker but Olivia Laing herself, if we dare look into all the autobiographical clues the text of Crudo presents to us: Kathy is marrying for the third time to a man twenty-nine years a senior, who is also a writer. That is, in fact, not the story of Kathy Acker, the deceased icon, but of Olivia Laing, who married in the Summer of 2017 for the first time (but the third time to her husband). I have no doubt Kathy Acker, if alive, would feed off of twitter and all the chaotic information and attempted activism everyone in this day and age thrives for, and I have no doubt she would have been as baffled by the happenings of 2017 (Trump elected president, Brexit, North Korea, climate change, the rise of alt-right movements and blatant shows of racism and exacerbated nationalism) -- but, as someone who is not particularly interested of Kathy Acker or even likes her fiction, the need for this exercise proved fruitless and, wrecking my brain trying to figure out why the protagonist of Crudo is Kathy Acker and not some unnamed middle-aged, privileged woman*, I came to no conclusions at all. (* Yes, this Kathy Acker has lost all her edge now she’s getting married and sunbathing in expensive resorts in Italy and having coffee and tea with her equally privileged friends who only discuss art and the state of the world as it affects them). If we dismiss all of that, however, this is a stream of consciousness text, convoluted and mostly void of meaning, if not for the mention of current political events. Crudo is, undoubtedly, one of the most contemporary novels to have ever been written, tackling topics that are important and familiar to all those who lived through the year of 2017 (not only the summer), and when discussing those moments, Olivia Laing’s prose becomes a little more lucid and contemplative, allowing the book to shine -- it is only a shame that just as quickly it fades completely into obscure depths, sometimes even senseless and most definitely random passages. An example: “Her books had been banned in Germany and South Africa, she was no stranger to saying things so disgusting and repellent that everyone gagged, she was like a really bitter drag queen only – surprise!!! – she had a pussy under her dress.” Or “A man called Stan in a straw hat and filthy suit is ahead of her in the queue for the post office. Another man walks in. Hello Malcolm X top of the morning hello Malcolm X top of the morning hello Malcolm X Malcolm XXX.” … What? What am I missing here? I felt frustrated with this book, especially when there were moments of such lucidity and clarity, profound knowledge and insights into the human condition and, in particular, the way the events of 2017 classified us as a species but also how it affected individuals with the sense of fear and catastrophe, that to break off those moments with complete gibberish didn’t allow me to take Crudo as seriously as I would like. But maybe it isn’t a serious book, maybe this is where Kathy Acker comes into play, how meaningless it all is and how saying a few crude (ha!) words and random, shocking imagery, is better than anything Olivia Laing could have said? Which, if it is, completely undermines the context of the book, so I’m guessing that’s not the case -- especially as Olivia Laing proves to be someone who’s really affected and interested by the current political events, if not for the birth of this book, then for the content she shares on twitter. All this to say: maybe Crudo went completely over my head. Maybe the fact that I don’t really care for Kathy Acker and her books made me miss a lot of important details. Maybe I’m not intelligent enough to reach the depth of the experimental text and am just scraping the surface. Maybe the book’s own ambition was its downfall.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)

    Willa Cather, by which I mean I, was getting revolted. Willa, by which I mean I, had just ordered a cafe latte, she was feeling fancy, she read the first six pages of Crudo. Willa bailed. I mean I.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Neil

    UPDATE: Now read for a second time and I am less impressed than the first time. I found it hard to escape the feeling that I was skating across the surface of something and never getting underneath it. I believe this is the author's intention, to capture the ephemerality of modern life etc., but I found it frustrating more than anything else. Rating adjusted accordingly. ------------------------------ Kathy, by which I mean I, was getting married. Kathy, by which I mean I, had just got off a plane UPDATE: Now read for a second time and I am less impressed than the first time. I found it hard to escape the feeling that I was skating across the surface of something and never getting underneath it. I believe this is the author's intention, to capture the ephemerality of modern life etc., but I found it frustrating more than anything else. Rating adjusted accordingly. ------------------------------ Kathy, by which I mean I, was getting married. Kathy, by which I mean I, had just got off a plane from New York. It was 19:45 on 13 May 2017 The “I” in this quote (the opening of the book) is, as becomes apparent from the (minimal) events in the story, the book’s author, Olivia Laing. The Kathy is Kathy Acker, of whom Wikipedia says she was an American experimental novelist, punk poet, playwright, essayist, postmodernist and sex-positive feminist writer. Acker is noted for works that borrowed from others (without acknowledgement) and used forms of pastiche and deployed Burroughs's cut-up technique, involving cutting-up and scrambling passages and sentences into a somewhat random remix. Here, Laing takes an Acker approach to a sort of autobiography. The book was written in real time over the period it covers, which explains the several “time stamps” as in the opening quote. Laing wrote as things happened and did not review/revise (and kept her editor’s revisions to a minimum, I believe). In this way, the book has similarities to Ali Smith’s seasonal quartet, and both have the same problem that the immediacy of the events they cover means things have changed by the time people read the book. In Laing’s case, this is North Korea which features heavily as a threat but where things have moved on significantly in recent times. (Note also that Ali Smith uses a female artist as a figure in her books, Pauline Boty in Autumn and Barbara Hepworth in Winter). Gumble’s Yard has, in his review, pointed out the links between Laing and Smith in real life. Our narrator is almost a composite of Laing and Acker and it seems at time that the two parts are having a dialogue. The Laing part is worrying about her upcoming marriage (she married the poet Ian Patterson in the same period as the book is set), choosing paint for her house, learning to live with another person. The Acker part is thinking about the next relationship in the middle of the current one, talking and behaving badly, dreaming of perpetual youth. This conflict between wanting to hold on to youth and wanting the “security” of growing up seems a recurring theme. And all around Kathy/Olivia, there is the world. Particularly Donald Trump and Brexit. But also several other momentous events. Kathy/Olivia follows the events through Twitter, reading many of Trump’s tweets, and other media outlets. She begins to feel like there is no escape. At one point she notes If she walked away from her laptop what was there: a garden, birches, that Malcolm XXX man chatting in the queue. Walk back, Armageddon. (Note that the missing “?” is Laing’s not mine! The book is stream of consciousness in style and there’s an associated slapdash attitude to punctuation throughout. There are also a couple of sentences with multiple negatives, so many that I still don’t quite understand what they are saying). It has been said that Laing has “re-wired the novel”. If I were being critical, I would say that at times it reads more like she has published her notes rather than the novel she would have written from them. But this is a deliberate thing, an attempt to capture the immediacy of news and life. And it often works. One consequence is that the book, like a lot of people, sees the news, hears about momentous events around the world, but does not stop to consider them. We are all guilty of this, but one of the joys of reading a book is having time to stop and consider the significance and impact of world events. At times this book feels very superficial. Kathy was worried about ageing, she hadn’t realised youth wasn’t a permanent state, that she wouldn’t always be cute and hopeless and forgivable. I can’t make up my mind whether that is deliberate and clever or not. Certainly I know that one consequence of reading this book and taking a dislike to Kathy (how can I like someone who says ”They drove into the countryside, not a place where Kathy spent much time.”?) made me more determined to read the newspaper more carefully, so I suppose that’s a good thing. The whole book feels like it skims the surface. It doesn't stop to consider the significance of world events and it holds us at a distance from our narrator. I think this book requires a second reading. The fact that I think this and that I am not dismayed at the prospect means I have added a star to my rating. This may be removed on re-reading as I think I am being a bit generous.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Marc

    “There is no story, she writes, I’m going crazy. It’s a cry.” This booklet has barely 120 pages, but to me that was quite enough. I soon wondered where this was going: those short flip-flopping sentences, the accumulation of very gloomy thoughts about the (bad) state of the world, the growing chaos in the life of storyteller Kathy and beyond. The current events of the summer of 2017 are constantly returning, and Trump and Brexit in particular cast their shadow over the story. Well, story…, it's b “There is no story, she writes, I’m going crazy. It’s a cry.” This booklet has barely 120 pages, but to me that was quite enough. I soon wondered where this was going: those short flip-flopping sentences, the accumulation of very gloomy thoughts about the (bad) state of the world, the growing chaos in the life of storyteller Kathy and beyond. The current events of the summer of 2017 are constantly returning, and Trump and Brexit in particular cast their shadow over the story. Well, story…, it's barely there: the most important thing we learn is that after a rough life, at the age of 40 Kathy is marrying a much older poet. But apparently that event does not radiate much enthusiasm. Constant emphasis is placed on the disruption, on the emptiness and loneliness of existence: "She was at the middle of her life, going south, going nowhere, stuck between stations like a broken-down engine." That doesn't prevent Kathy from living a true luxury life: she combines vacation after vacation, does impulse purchases of exquisite merchandise, and moves out as soon as she's tired of a home. And all the time she's complaining about the misery in the world. In the reviews I learn that Olivia Laing was inspired by the life of punk artist Kathy Acker (1947-1997), but how that can be reconciled with the luxury life of our narrator is a mystery to me. I am certainly not the first to point this out, but the references to current affairs involuntarily exude the atmosphere of Ali Smith's Autumn without approaching the magic of that work. And whilst we are comparing, perhaps you can see this as a writing experiment along the lines of Rachel Cusk's Outline trilogy Rachel Cusk Collection: Outline, Transit and Kudos, but then just the other way around: with Cusk the narrator was defined by the stories that others told her, here our narrator just throws everything out herself, in an uncontrolled monologue, unfiltered and hence indeed 'crudo'. Maybe that's the point of this book ("no story, just a cry"), but, unfortunately, it didn't captivate me. (rating 1.5 stars)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Paul Fulcher

    What is art if it's not plagarising the world? Shortlisted for the 2018 Goldsmiths Prize, Olivia Laing's Crudo certainly displays the required 'spirit of invention ... extending the possibilities of the novel form': It begins: Kathy, by which I mean I, was getting married. Kathy, by which I mean I, had just got off a plane from New York. It was 19:45 on 13 May 2017. .... Two and a half months later, pre-wedding, post decision to wed, Kathy found herself in Italy ... Now, 2 August 2017, she was sit What is art if it's not plagarising the world? Shortlisted for the 2018 Goldsmiths Prize, Olivia Laing's Crudo certainly displays the required 'spirit of invention ... extending the possibilities of the novel form': It begins: Kathy, by which I mean I, was getting married. Kathy, by which I mean I, had just got off a plane from New York. It was 19:45 on 13 May 2017. .... Two and a half months later, pre-wedding, post decision to wed, Kathy found herself in Italy ... Now, 2 August 2017, she was sitting under a hornets nest in the Val d'Orcia. Crudo was announced, fittingly, on Twitter on 1 August 2017, the year Laing turned 40, as first of a quarter of planned novels to be written over the next decades: Tipsy over dinner, I have come up with a quartet of novels which I am going to write in the first year of the next four decades. Or forget entirely by breakfast. argh the titles are so good!!!!!!She began writing the next day and this novel was written in just 7 weeks, the same period as spanned by the novel, as the author has noted in interviews ("I started on August 2, 2017, on a sun lounger in Italy, just as the book begins, and I finished on September 23, in Terminal 3 of Heathrow Airport, just as it ends"), with a brief flash back in the novel to May 2017 to take in the firing of FBI Director James Comey by Donald Trump. It was written while Laing was struggling to write a non-fiction book about bodies, particularly one taking into account the turbulent time of the post-Brexit Trump-presidency long, hot Summer of 2017, and happened to be reading Chris Kraus's biography of Kathy Acker. The novel's conceit, as the opening paragraph suggests, is that Acker, who in reality died aged 50 in 1997, is living in 2017 as a forty-year old woman, and a woman whose life shares many of the features of Laing's own, including a forthcoming wedding (Laing was to marry that summer the poet Ian Patterson. One scene in the novel has Kathy attending a ceremony where her husband wins a prestigious poetry prize, based on Patterson's Forward Prize for a eulogy to his previous wife, the late Jenni Diski). Laing took inspiration from (again per interviews) Acker's "Kathy’s expressive, expansive plagiarism. I immediately had the idea of plagiarizing my own life and times and putting them in the Kathy Acker person." In the novel lines from Acker are often inserted without any marker (albeit acknowledged in an appendix) and the book notes about 'Kathy': She liked to steal other people's stories, just lift them wholesale. ... She wrote fiction, sure, but she populated it with the already extant, the pre-packaged and readymade. She was in many ways Warhol’s daughter, niece at least, a grave-robber, a bandit, happy to snatch what she needed but was also morally invested in the cause: that there was no need to invent. The novel's title means raw in Italian and the book was, as mentioned, written almost in real-time, and further Laing didn't permit herself to re-read or revise: even her publishers were allowed only light editing. Even the flashback to May and the Comey firing was taken from an account she wrote at the time. The result is a strong sense of living in the moment, a novel for the Twitter age, told in rather short prose and with little sense of distance or perspective. Laing's intention seems to be to capture precisely this feature of the Trump presidency in particular: Numbness mattered, it was what the Nazis did, made people feel like things were moving too fast to stop and though unpleasant and eventually terrifying and appalling, were probably impossible to do anything about. The speed of the news cycle, the hyper-acceleration of the story, she was hip to those pleasures, queasy as they were. People got used to them, they depended on the reliable shots of 10am and 3 pm and 7pm outrage. Take right now, 27 August 2017. HISTORIC rainfall in Houston, and all over Texas, Trump had tweeted. Floods are unprecedented, and more rain coming. Spirit of the people is incredible. Thanks! I will be going to a wonderful state, Missouri, that I won by a lot in '16. As noted this does lead to a (deliberate) lack of perspective. E.g. writing this review the day after Trump's 2nd Supreme Court nominee was confirmed, and after an even longer, hotter, summer, but also one when the threatened armageddon with North Korea that haunts Crudo has turned into a bromance between two demagogues, much of was is included in the novel seems ephemeral. Although from interviews that does, to be fair, seem to be part of Laing's point, to encourage people to take the long view. In the novel she quotes one of Trump's more hyperbolic claims (and other remarks of his provides some strong competition), a claim any student of history knows will prove a nonsense: there will never not be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!. Kathy also compares power and ice - in an interview with Ali Smith (link below) Laing explained that ultimately both melt away. And there is an obvious - even invited - comparison to be made with Ali Smith's seasonal quartet, which also includes up to date political events. Smith's partner Sarah Wood is Laing's cousin and she has known Smith for over 20 years, interviewing her in the Guardian when Autumn was published. The quartet was clearly another key inspiration, and Laing has suggested she may write her own quartet, albeit over a much longer time frame, revisiting her life at the ages of 50, 60 and 70 and with the final instalment tentatively to be entitled Burnt. In purely literary terms, Crudo isn't flattered by the comparison to Autumn and Winter: Ali Smith's book are far more carefully constructed and refined, but again the rawness of Crudo is literally and literately the point. And while book covers generally pass me by, the use of Wolfgang Tillman's 'astro crusto' here is striking and links brilliantly to images of a crab and the smashing of shells in the text. Overall, very much the sort of novel that makes the Goldsmiths Prize one of the UK's finest. Sources: https://player.fm/series/london-revie... https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2... https://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/... https://www.theguardian.com/books/201... https://www.lrb.co.uk/v40/n15/joanna-...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Monica Kim: Reader in Emerald City

    Ten years ago, maybe even five, it was possible to ignore atrocities, to believe that these things happened somewhere else, in a different order of reality from your own. Now, perhaps because of the internet, it was like the blind spot had got very small, and motional like a marble. You couldn't rely on it. You could go on holiday but you knew corpses washed up there, if not now then then, or later. — Olivia Laing, Crudo . . Olivia Laing’s “Crudo” was one of the most challenging and compelling book Ten years ago, maybe even five, it was possible to ignore atrocities, to believe that these things happened somewhere else, in a different order of reality from your own. Now, perhaps because of the internet, it was like the blind spot had got very small, and motional like a marble. You couldn't rely on it. You could go on holiday but you knew corpses washed up there, if not now then then, or later. — Olivia Laing, Crudo . . Olivia Laing’s “Crudo” was one of the most challenging and compelling books I ever read, despite its slim size. It was almost too experimental for me; but nonetheless brilliant, intriguing, and bit depressing at times. This was my first book by Laing, and this is her first fiction, so I wasn’t sure what her writing style was like. Midway through the book, I had to do a little research because I felt like I wasn’t getting it. This is a hard book to get a handle on, and a harder one to describe. So this novel is based on three characters combined — narrator named Kathy, author Laign, and an American author & feminist named, Kathy Acker (died in 1997), whom the main character is loosely based off and bits of her writing is infused throughout the novel. So it’s sort of like Kathy Acker’s life re-imagined as Laign’s life twenty years after her death in 2017 narrated by the narrator. I know, confusing, but brilliant right? . ”KATHY, BY WHICH I mean I, was getting married,” Olivia Laing writes. “Kathy, by which I mean I, had just got off a plane from New York.” . The narrator, a 40-year-old British writer, a lot like Laign herself & Kathy Acker is a wild child, loves to travel, and preparing for her wedding. It’s year 2017, and narrator is consumed by social media & terrified by what’s happening in the world, mainly focused on U.S & U.K politics. It’s written lot like frantic streams of consciousness — alternating between anxiety about becoming a wife to anxiety about wanting to be free to anxiety about the state of the world and back & forth again. It’s about one woman settling into a married life & trying to find her place in the world while maintaining her independence in the midst of all the chaos. . I know Laign isn’t the first writer to do so, but It was my first time reading a book in which the author reimagines oneself as another author. I think it’s such a creative writing style, that maybe hard to digest at first, but it was executed brilliantly. It’s definitely very different kind of a novel, that may work for some and not for others. Go with bit of open mind and immerse yourself in Laign’s writing, I think you’ll be captivated. Highly recommend it with bit of warning. 🤓✌️📖 Other Helpful Resources: *Author's Website Other Books by Olivia Laign: *To the River: A Journey Beneath the Surface (2011) *The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking (2013) *The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone (2016)

  21. 4 out of 5

    Maria Hill AKA MH Books

    This is about the Summer and Autumn of 2017; about Brexit, Trump, floods, fires, Twitter, Nuclear bomb testing, sumptuous parties, inane conversations, hangovers from hell. “2017 was turning into a bumper year, a real doozy, everything arse about tit.’ This is a story about 40-year-old Kathy (an amalgam of a deceased author Kathy Acker and Olivia Laing herself) who is getting married and is just about as messed up as 2017. But unlike 2017, which let’s face it led to the travesty that is 2018, can This is about the Summer and Autumn of 2017; about Brexit, Trump, floods, fires, Twitter, Nuclear bomb testing, sumptuous parties, inane conversations, hangovers from hell. “2017 was turning into a bumper year, a real doozy, everything arse about tit.’ This is a story about 40-year-old Kathy (an amalgam of a deceased author Kathy Acker and Olivia Laing herself) who is getting married and is just about as messed up as 2017. But unlike 2017, which let’s face it led to the travesty that is 2018, can Kathy find happiness and salvation in her marriage? Or will she be compelled to always buy and sell new apartments? There is little or no plot to the novel it is instead about the inner life and anxieties of a modern woman in contemporary times. So not for everyone but a reading experience all the same.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Doug

    2.5, rounded down. I didn't actively hate this, but I felt so much of it was insular and preaching to a very specific audience, one that I am definitely on the outskirts of. I know I read SOMETHING by Acker back when she was au courant, but I couldn't tell you what - and I suspect a week from now I could pick this up and read it and be convinced I had never touched it before. In other words, nothing in it sticks. It's all just gimmicky mental masturbation. 2.5, rounded down. I didn't actively hate this, but I felt so much of it was insular and preaching to a very specific audience, one that I am definitely on the outskirts of. I know I read SOMETHING by Acker back when she was au courant, but I couldn't tell you what - and I suspect a week from now I could pick this up and read it and be convinced I had never touched it before. In other words, nothing in it sticks. It's all just gimmicky mental masturbation.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Possibly in Michigan, London

    Quick thoughts:- Edit: I dislike this the more I think about it. It’s politically really dumb - twitter might just be a stream of news events but that’s not how we ultimately emotionally experience the news. If it’s a critique of the self-absorbed middle-classes, it doesn’t go far enough at all. It excuses its own ignorance and lack of engagement by pretending it’s just depicting a milieu. And making the narrator, a version of Kathy Acker, toothless by suggesting all radicals settle down in the e Quick thoughts:- Edit: I dislike this the more I think about it. It’s politically really dumb - twitter might just be a stream of news events but that’s not how we ultimately emotionally experience the news. If it’s a critique of the self-absorbed middle-classes, it doesn’t go far enough at all. It excuses its own ignorance and lack of engagement by pretending it’s just depicting a milieu. And making the narrator, a version of Kathy Acker, toothless by suggesting all radicals settle down in the end - not true! This was apparently written quickly last year and is set in the time span of a couple of months over the summer of 2017. It’s narrated by Kathy Acker, a fictional Acker who has somehow survived to use digital social media and who is on the verge of uncharacteristically settling down, with a much older man. The marriage awakens all kinds of fears, not helped by the global political climate. I have a new policy of pretending to myself I know nothing about the writer from Twitter when I read a book, but it’s probably relevant that the writer is quite similar in lots of ways and the narration veers between ‘I’ and third person (although perhaps Kathy speaks of herself in third person?) Olivia Laing seems to be emulating the average Twitter feed in the way this is structured, which makes sense because she mentions Twitter a lot. It’s kind of a stream of consciousness with reactions to the headlines of the day thrown in. The mundane and the horrific jostle against each other - news of Charlottesville, doing the gardening, a running commentary on the emotionally punishing effects of constantly being tuned in. There were some really profound and moving passages, mostly about the difficulty of loving after having been alone. There was something v disembodied about the narrator that I liked - she was (intentionally) hard to place, hard to be sure of. I’ll definitely be re-reading bits of it, even though it’s quite hard to envisage the shape of this, despite finishing it less than an hour ago. Formally, it’s a great experiment, although the subject is quite conventional: settling down. I’d recommend for a super quick read that has resonance.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Eric Anderson

    Recently I made a video talking about examples of contemporary authors who fictionally reimagine the lives of classic authors. But it's been a funny coincidence that the past two novels I've read do this exact thing in creatively pioneering ways. Cristina Rivera Garza brought back multiple versions of the Mexican writer Amparo Davila in her gender-bending “The Iliac Crest” and now Olivia Laing has done so in her first novel “Crudo” by merging her own identity with that of punk poet and cutting-e Recently I made a video talking about examples of contemporary authors who fictionally reimagine the lives of classic authors. But it's been a funny coincidence that the past two novels I've read do this exact thing in creatively pioneering ways. Cristina Rivera Garza brought back multiple versions of the Mexican writer Amparo Davila in her gender-bending “The Iliac Crest” and now Olivia Laing has done so in her first novel “Crudo” by merging her own identity with that of punk poet and cutting-edge novelist Kathy Acker (who died in 1997.) I've been anticipating this novel so much because Laing's nonfiction book “The Lonely City” was such an important touchstone for me in understanding the condition of loneliness. “Crudo” follows a re-imagined Kathy twenty years after her death in 2017 during the languorous Italian days in the lead up to her marriage to a much older writer. She reflects on the state of the world from dispiriting politics to her interactions with groups of artists to the challenging interplay between the inner and outer world. In doing so Laing forms a fascinating portrait of the modern crisis of an individual who feels she has opportunities and access to vast amounts of information, but is in some ways powerless to enact change or escape her own privilege. Read my full review of Crudo by Olivia Laing on LonesomeReader

  25. 5 out of 5

    Constantine

    Rating: 3.0/5.0 Genre: Contemporary + Literary Fiction This book hardly had any plot, it depends mainly on a stream of consciousness. So if you dislike that you should stay away from it. The story is told from the main character's (Kathy) perspective. The narration keeps changing from a first-person to a third person. Kathy who is in her 40s is getting married for the third time in a few days and we get to follow her life in those few days (the present) but through a huge stream of consciousness, w Rating: 3.0/5.0 Genre: Contemporary + Literary Fiction This book hardly had any plot, it depends mainly on a stream of consciousness. So if you dislike that you should stay away from it. The story is told from the main character's (Kathy) perspective. The narration keeps changing from a first-person to a third person. Kathy who is in her 40s is getting married for the third time in a few days and we get to follow her life in those few days (the present) but through a huge stream of consciousness, we get to know her past as well. You can categorize this book as one like those which offer a slice of life. I liked that the short story mentioned some of the current challenges and problems that our world is facing like Trump's presidency, North Korea's crisis, Brexit, sexuality, and other subjects, but to be honest I'd rather have a story that mentions one particular subject and goes deep into it. Except for Trump's subject, the rest were hardly elaborated. I'm not sure how Trump will be relevant in say ten years from now. I feel this book will face the same fate as well. Can't say I am a fan of Olivia Laing' storytelling in this book. Even for a short book, it felt tiresome to go into different subjects from a paragraph to another. It felt like when you receive a call from a salesperson who tries to sell you something without pausing for one moment so you can think about what he is saying. All in all, this was just a fast average read for me. I am giving Crudo 3.0 stars out of 5.0.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Katia N

    This book might be described as a stream of consciousness by the main protagonist. And normally I would like this form. From the first page we understand that the main protagonist is a woman who might be Kathy Acker (a feminist icon who died in 1997) or might be the other woman who lives in 2017. Or more likely, it is the woman who strongly identifies with Kathy Acker to the point of not making the difference. It is a very hard premise to deliver in the narrative. And I found the execution inter This book might be described as a stream of consciousness by the main protagonist. And normally I would like this form. From the first page we understand that the main protagonist is a woman who might be Kathy Acker (a feminist icon who died in 1997) or might be the other woman who lives in 2017. Or more likely, it is the woman who strongly identifies with Kathy Acker to the point of not making the difference. It is a very hard premise to deliver in the narrative. And I found the execution interesting, but very confusing. "Crudo" means "raw" in Spanish. 'Raw" in English might mean two things - visceral, strong and undisguised emotions; or unprocessed, uncooked. I guess, the intention by the author was to imply both meanings: the first one - for Kathy's (or the woman-2017's) personal struggles (getting married, finding attachment difficult, fighting cancer); and the second meaning - Kathy's relation to the "raw" news stream in August-September 2017. And if the author partially succeed in the first instance, the second is totally unconvincing for me. It is more or less the list of selected news items with the commentary on the level "Kathy felt sick" or confused or annoyed. Ali Smith's Seasons' Quartet comes to mind as it deals with the very current political events as well. But there is powerful imagination in the way how she renders these events in spite of their immediacy. Unfortunately, I have not felt it in this book. And the last thing which spoiled my impression of this book was a comment about "a profile in American magazine about a novelist" and then it was a verbatim which appeared to be the profile in New Yorker about Rachel Cusk. ( I googled). "What especially annoyed her (Kathy) was a comparison between the novelist's latest book and an oral history of Chrenobyl. ... Kathy found nuclear war a considerably more seemly subject than nuclear families. Kathy was avant-garde, middle-class-in-flight, Kathy did not like the bourgeoisie" (!!!) Well, I like Cusk and especially the trilogy. And i am not sure I share this pathos and why Cusk was singled out by Kathy... Kathy in meantime is not against of enjoying a vacation in a very rich villa somewhere in Italy or employing " three Romanians men, boys really" to clean her windows. I am grateful to the author for bringing my attention to Kathy Acker whom I did not know before and whose whole life seems to be an act of art. I really admire Olivia Laing's non-fiction writing. But unfortunately this novel did not work for me. However, many people might find a lot to admire in this book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    jo

    i'm a bit stuck on something here. crudo, the italian word, means indeed "raw." but anyone who has spent more than a week in italy, and laing definitely has, knows that the first association anyone has to the word crudo used by itself and out of context is to prosciutto. italians call prosciutto "prosciutto crudo" or just "crudo." i wouldn't know why laing would choose this particular word for her novel's title, but since it evokes luxury and pleasure (prosciutto is both super tasty and expensiv i'm a bit stuck on something here. crudo, the italian word, means indeed "raw." but anyone who has spent more than a week in italy, and laing definitely has, knows that the first association anyone has to the word crudo used by itself and out of context is to prosciutto. italians call prosciutto "prosciutto crudo" or just "crudo." i wouldn't know why laing would choose this particular word for her novel's title, but since it evokes luxury and pleasure (prosciutto is both super tasty and expensive -- the good kind at least), i think it goes with some of the themes of the novel. which are, in no particular order, love, luxury living in italy and england, an august-november marriage, the t* regime, the end of the world, aging, nostalgia, and kathy acker. (this is my second t* novel; the first is the beautiful and omg hopeful The Book of Dog, by our own Lark Benobi). i loved this book. i love the free-flowing yet carefully chosen language, the ruminations on how to love and age and enjoy things in late-stage capitalism, when so many are in incredible pain and deprivation and, also, a ridiculous head of state is bringing us all to the brink of worldwide insanity. i love that kathy and her husband enjoy each other so damn much, don't sleep in the same room (a still shameful practice that i think would fix many a couple), and have a somewhat open marriage but are too in the throes of love to make anything of it. i love the massive love between these two, that the protagonist thinks of herself, a la kathy acker, a kind of gay man, that she surrounds herself with art and literature and good friends, that she's a free spirit who is openly narcissistic (as per her definition) but doesn't give a shit. also i love that the book unabashedly and openly cannibalizes other published words (mostly by kathy acker) without putting the stolen bits in quotation marks (but acknowledging them in the endnotes). it's comforting to creators to think, to paraphrase kathy acker, that all literature/art is plagiarism. if this, this book, is how plagiarizing others looks like, let's all do it i say.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Britta Böhler

    Wild at heart & weird on top...

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    I lack the patience or interest to get through this one right now. I remember buying a Kathy ACker book, maybe I should start there.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    Non-current events shoehorned into a cold narrative about nothing. Immediately dated and with nothing to say.

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