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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-l 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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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-l 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.

30 review for The Hard Crowd: Essays 2000-2020

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    In a recent Zoom conversation between George Saunders and Tobias Wolfe, Rachel Kushner's name came up -- Saunders said he would read whatever she wrote. She is one of those special talents who is equally at home in fiction as well as non-, and this collection of essays showcases her proficiency with the latter. Her material covers subjects ranging from a visit to a Palestinian refugee camp to portraits of unconventional personalities, but when she is writing about her own experience, well, that' In a recent Zoom conversation between George Saunders and Tobias Wolfe, Rachel Kushner's name came up -- Saunders said he would read whatever she wrote. She is one of those special talents who is equally at home in fiction as well as non-, and this collection of essays showcases her proficiency with the latter. Her material covers subjects ranging from a visit to a Palestinian refugee camp to portraits of unconventional personalities, but when she is writing about her own experience, well, that's when the gloves come off (not that the gloves were there to begin with), and a reader can truly appreciate where her gutsy, take-no-prisoners style comes from. Her parents are to be commended, granting her the freedom from a very young age to hone her sense of independence. As she fearlessly enters a motorcycle race (illegal) down the Baja Peninsula or waits bar in San Francisco's Tenderloin, she has the instincts of a keen observer. The final piece, a nostalgic lookback at growing up on the non-touristy side of San Francisco, closes with the observation "I'm talking about my own life. Which not only can't matter to you, it might bore you." No. Never. Boring is one thing that Rachel Kushner never is.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Chris Haak

    Very well written and felt essays. I personally would have liked less essays about art, literature, film and more about life, culture, politics. Her essays about the motorcycle race and the refugee camp in Jerusalem are absolutely outstanding for instance. Thank you Simon and Schuster and Edelweiss for the ARC.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    Some real cool zingers in here, especially her wild Baja 1000 trip that ended in her careening into a crash, and the reason I picked this up, the piece on Ruth Wilson Gilmore on the hard truths behind the idea of prison abolition.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mark Wheaton

    Such a great, un-put-downable read. Not sure there’s a more badass, vital, and energizing writer in fiction or non- these days.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    This was an interesting collection. I hadn't read any of her non-fiction before but really enjoyed it. Kushner is one if thoes authors I would love to hang out with. In these essays which were written throughout the last 20 years she covers a variety of subjects. Her more personal essays were my favorites. Like one about a motorcycle race down in Mexico, and another about working in various rock club. And the literary essays I enjoyed too, about Denis Johnson, Cormac McCarthy and another about M This was an interesting collection. I hadn't read any of her non-fiction before but really enjoyed it. Kushner is one if thoes authors I would love to hang out with. In these essays which were written throughout the last 20 years she covers a variety of subjects. Her more personal essays were my favorites. Like one about a motorcycle race down in Mexico, and another about working in various rock club. And the literary essays I enjoyed too, about Denis Johnson, Cormac McCarthy and another about Margaret Duras, all left me compelled to read more of their work. There is a reportage piece on the abolition of jails that was very thought provoking as well. This was a well compiled collection. I did wish that the dates she wrote the essays had been included though. There is no doubt Kushner is a magnificent writer. Being able to write interesting non-fiction as well as fiction really shows her skills. Thank you to @simonschusterca for sending me this #arc. Available April 6th. • For more of my book content check out instagram.com/bookalong

  6. 4 out of 5

    Vincent Scarpa

    “To become a writer is to have left early no matter what time you got home.”

  7. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    My thanks to Scribner and NetGalley for an e-ARC of this new collection. OK, I LOVED her personal reminiscences! And I have to wonder if she handed me a drink one evening when she worked the bars at Bill Graham's clubs. And ya gotta love that she is a gearhead from an early age. The title essay brought back a lot of memories of obscure little joints and music clubs I would go to on occasion. And ah yes, Polk Gulch! OTOH, I found myself browse reading some of her pieces on literature, film, and a My thanks to Scribner and NetGalley for an e-ARC of this new collection. OK, I LOVED her personal reminiscences! And I have to wonder if she handed me a drink one evening when she worked the bars at Bill Graham's clubs. And ya gotta love that she is a gearhead from an early age. The title essay brought back a lot of memories of obscure little joints and music clubs I would go to on occasion. And ah yes, Polk Gulch! OTOH, I found myself browse reading some of her pieces on literature, film, and art. 3 pieces on the 1970's Italian radical movement becomes a bit redundant. The long piece on just "Anna" was more interesting than I thought it would be, but there was a bit of, "I saw this obscure, 4 hour long film, and you didn't....." The longest piece is on prison reform/abolition - it seemed more like a synopsis. But when I saw that it was written for the NYT Magazine, the style and depth fit. One thing that I do love here, is that Scribner gave us complete bibliographic information on where and when each piece was first published. I wish all publishers would do that for collections of essays, and short stories. The first piece, on a motorcycle race in Mexico, was published in 2001, and then the next piece seems to jump to about 2012. Really, from her critical pieces, I walked away with one book and a movie that I had not heard of before, and wanted to follow up on in the future. Not much, disappointingly. Although I did Google the art work of a couple of the artists she writes about here, most of whom she seems to have known as friends. Maybe this is a book that would be most enjoyed by Kushner fans (and I am one myself, I read her books as they are published, and really have enjoyed the novels). For me, I am sure I would have enjoyed it more if there had been additional essays about her personal life and growing up in San Francisco.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Scott Phillips

    The Hard Crowd by Rachel Kushner, author of the highly popular “The Flamethrowers” is a collection of her essays penned from 2000-2020, Bookended by writing detailing her experiences in a motorcycle rally that sees her taken out as she swerves to avoid a race mate and a deep look at her growing up in San Francisco via memories supplied to her while watching a YouTube video originally filmed in 1966, Kushner writes about not only her own life experiences but different forms of art. One particular The Hard Crowd by Rachel Kushner, author of the highly popular “The Flamethrowers” is a collection of her essays penned from 2000-2020, Bookended by writing detailing her experiences in a motorcycle rally that sees her taken out as she swerves to avoid a race mate and a deep look at her growing up in San Francisco via memories supplied to her while watching a YouTube video originally filmed in 1966, Kushner writes about not only her own life experiences but different forms of art. One particular standout is her essay featuring old cars. The in depth detail transported me to my youth as well, remembering my fathers love & passion for vintage vehicles. Also a standout was her writing around her job at nightclubs and concert venues touched by the wonderful Bill Graham. The personal recollections of the goings-on of famous rock n rollers never gets tired. I will say that Kushners deep dive into books & film trudged along for me, but mainly given I hadn’t read or been exposed to those works prior to this book. Admittedly, reading her work hasn’t made me WANT to, but this is such a personal view that I wouldn’t suggest most people to skip this book. Overall, I enjoyed the collection. Not often will you read someone pulling the sad crashing of the Costa Concordia in with a harkening back of the tv series The Love Boat, but Kushner does so. In this Covid age, this collection will whisk you away in so many different directions you feel like you’ve finally escaped your four walls. Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for providing a copy for review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Milana M (acouplereads)

    This collection of essays brought about nostalgia within me. But this nostalgia is not one I personally experienced but one I felt through second hand driven from music and movies. Nostalgia I wished I had experienced as the 70s and 80s are a time unlike any other in our history. A time of exploration and discovery, a time where toeing the line of mischief could never again be replicated. 🏍 Rachel Kushner is an author of not one but two nominated national book award titles. She is an author I’ve n This collection of essays brought about nostalgia within me. But this nostalgia is not one I personally experienced but one I felt through second hand driven from music and movies. Nostalgia I wished I had experienced as the 70s and 80s are a time unlike any other in our history. A time of exploration and discovery, a time where toeing the line of mischief could never again be replicated. 🏍 Rachel Kushner is an author of not one but two nominated national book award titles. She is an author I’ve never read but there was something enticing about her stories from the synopsis and when I saw @bookalong enjoyed it well, I knew I had to get my hands on it. 🏍 Kushner shares her experiences through essays she’s written. From partying with Keith Richards and participating in an illegal motorcycle race to visiting a refugee camp in Israel as a journalist, this woman has many stories for us. Stories I’d love to sit down and have a beer and just listen to her relay them to me for hours on end. 🏍 Although some pieces went completely over my head and google was a necessity, I found others I connected with that created a lump in my throat and others had me rage reading at the experiences she had and what she saw. 🏍 An incredible writer so much so that I wrote down more quotes than I have from any of my other January reads. Thank you @simonschusterca for the review copy, I can’t wait to read her fiction, 3.5✨ for The Hard Crowd.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Hardcover Hearts

    I just admit straight out that I am in love with this book. I have had an imperfect relationship with Kushner's works- I devoured and marveled at The Flamethrowers, but was not as impressed by her last novel, The Mars Room. I admired what she was trying to say, but it felt less bold, less sweeping in scope than I had expected. But this book, in it's collection of essays, feels so potent and vibrant that I am again a convert. It may be that I am also someone who lived in SF during the same years I just admit straight out that I am in love with this book. I have had an imperfect relationship with Kushner's works- I devoured and marveled at The Flamethrowers, but was not as impressed by her last novel, The Mars Room. I admired what she was trying to say, but it felt less bold, less sweeping in scope than I had expected. But this book, in it's collection of essays, feels so potent and vibrant that I am again a convert. It may be that I am also someone who lived in SF during the same years she did. My first vehicle was also a motorcycle and I also took long, treacherous rides on it, though not as disastrous as hers was. I also know many of the people she references and places she checks from 1990s SF. I also am interested in refugee camps, prison abolition and how it's framed up for conversation and debate, Marguerite Duras, and art in general. But hearing her talk and eulogize someone I am acquainted with from many years ago was something that I don't know if I can put into words. She was able to show me another side of him, but one that also contained elements that I recognized in him. I had no expectations that this book would speak to me so deeply and so personally. I don't know how another reader will relate to this since I feel so close to the material, so I will offer that she writes with such clarity and sharp insight She is incredibly smart, curious, and self-aware. I hope people pick this book up.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Marco

    What an interesting collection of essays. I didn't find myself usually wondering what the point was like other essay collections that deal with a cross of different subjects and I think that was because Kushner's book was all over the place - in a good way. Kushner describes a lot of personal anecdotes that create a collection worthy of your time. Told from a standpoint of someone standing by and watching life unfold and a viewer of classic, nearly forgotten films that she can describe the nuance What an interesting collection of essays. I didn't find myself usually wondering what the point was like other essay collections that deal with a cross of different subjects and I think that was because Kushner's book was all over the place - in a good way. Kushner describes a lot of personal anecdotes that create a collection worthy of your time. Told from a standpoint of someone standing by and watching life unfold and a viewer of classic, nearly forgotten films that she can describe the nuances of, it's more accessible to the reader who is looking to be involved in the discussion. Some essays are just an exploration of film, book essays that research meaning, some are occurrences Kushner relives such as concerts, political events (the one where she attends the party for the maker of tear gas will leave you fuming), and others are more personal stories of her life that are told almost factually but never flat. I think it's a great work and one that should be helpful to a generation who saw the best and the worst and are stuck in the in-between of what life was and what it could be.

  12. 4 out of 5

    James Beggarly

    Thanks to Netgalley and Scribner for the early ebook. Rachel Kushner is one of my favorite novelist and I’ve read a few of her nonfiction pieces in the New York Times Magazine, but it’s great to read this whole collection. There’s a great straight reporting article about the growing debate about the abolition of jails that is wonderful. There’s also some great thoughts on writers such as Duras, Denis Johnson and Comac McCarthy and his Border Trilogy. But my favorite pieces are the more personal Thanks to Netgalley and Scribner for the early ebook. Rachel Kushner is one of my favorite novelist and I’ve read a few of her nonfiction pieces in the New York Times Magazine, but it’s great to read this whole collection. There’s a great straight reporting article about the growing debate about the abolition of jails that is wonderful. There’s also some great thoughts on writers such as Duras, Denis Johnson and Comac McCarthy and his Border Trilogy. But my favorite pieces are the more personal essays like when she’s a bartender in San Francisco and working in various rock clubs, the opening piece of a day long motorcycle race in Mexico that she rode is brilliant and the looking back to her younger years of growing up in San Francisco in the title essay that is filled with the tough and wounded crowd that she knew, most who are missing or dead. That last one has more interesting characters than an Elmore Leonard book and I hope it’s a story she comes back to in a longer, fictional form, though she writes that she’s not ready to do so just yet.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cat Woods

    Rachel is an exemplary writer - even as I'm immersed in the story she's telling, I'm looking for how the cogs are turning, how she structured this amazing beast with all the intertwined concepts and characters so expertly introduced, depicted and revisited throughout. Some of the essays were a bit too smart-alecky with a battery of references to obscure authors, studies or historical texts and all delivered with an airy "oh this? I've had it forever!" air. It is alienating, when so much of Rache Rachel is an exemplary writer - even as I'm immersed in the story she's telling, I'm looking for how the cogs are turning, how she structured this amazing beast with all the intertwined concepts and characters so expertly introduced, depicted and revisited throughout. Some of the essays were a bit too smart-alecky with a battery of references to obscure authors, studies or historical texts and all delivered with an airy "oh this? I've had it forever!" air. It is alienating, when so much of Rachel's skill is in inviting her readers to snuggle onto the back of her motorbike and see everything, feel everything, discover everything as she does. For writers, Rachel's essays are the ultimate lesson in how to structure a compelling narrative, tell a good story that reveals so much about the storyteller, the time, the place while also revealing something very essential about human nature. For readers with no desire to put pen to paper, the same benefits apply. Never boring. That's a huge asset.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    I have read The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner and really liked it and loved that she references in this collection of essays some of the background and people who influenced her writing of that novel. The essays in her new book "The Hard Crowd" cover a lot of terrain - and were written over a 20 year timeframe. From insights into her growing up in San Francisco to her love of motorcycles and cars. She also writes about artists and writers (some well known, some not) and I was able to see the i I have read The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner and really liked it and loved that she references in this collection of essays some of the background and people who influenced her writing of that novel. The essays in her new book "The Hard Crowd" cover a lot of terrain - and were written over a 20 year timeframe. From insights into her growing up in San Francisco to her love of motorcycles and cars. She also writes about artists and writers (some well known, some not) and I was able to see the influence of these writers on her own fiction writing. She also visits places that most of us would never be able to access or experience (such as the Palestinian Refugee Camp). One essay discusses an Italian Film from the 1970's about Anna (which I just saw on Metrograph New York and she introduced). Her writing style is exquisite. She is not writing as an "outsider" but rather someone who experiences these events first hand which made these essays a joy to read. I really enjoyed these essays and highly recommend this book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cflack

    Rachel Kushner’s writing is always full of energy. I loved The Flamethrowers and The Mars Room and had read a few of these essays in their original publications. This collection of essays contain the same energy and independent spirit as her novels – with many of the essays feeding into the novels. If you liked The Flamethrowers you will find the essays about motorcycle racing, truck stops and 1970s Italy right up your alley - Girl on a Motorcycle, In the Company of Truckers and Popular Mechanics Rachel Kushner’s writing is always full of energy. I loved The Flamethrowers and The Mars Room and had read a few of these essays in their original publications. This collection of essays contain the same energy and independent spirit as her novels – with many of the essays feeding into the novels. If you liked The Flamethrowers you will find the essays about motorcycle racing, truck stops and 1970s Italy right up your alley - Girl on a Motorcycle, In the Company of Truckers and Popular Mechanics were all fantastic. If you liked the Mars Room you will like the essays about gritty San Francisco and prison abolition - Not With the Band and Is Prison Necessary? are the best. Two others that I loved were We Are Orphans Here about her visit to a Palestinian refugee camp and Bad Captains about really, really bad boat captains.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Brendan Ho

    "Was I hard? Not compared to the world around me. I tell myself it isn't a moral failing to be the soft one, but I'm actually not sure." In "The Hard Crowd," Rachel Kushner writes of writers and revolution, of motorcycles and broken down cars. The thread that ties them all together is that concept of "hardness." She describes "hard" people as "those who were free to wreck themselves. As a writer, she argues, she is always at a distance, partially in her own head instead of in the moment. But with "Was I hard? Not compared to the world around me. I tell myself it isn't a moral failing to be the soft one, but I'm actually not sure." In "The Hard Crowd," Rachel Kushner writes of writers and revolution, of motorcycles and broken down cars. The thread that ties them all together is that concept of "hardness." She describes "hard" people as "those who were free to wreck themselves. As a writer, she argues, she is always at a distance, partially in her own head instead of in the moment. But without people like her, how would we know and appreciate the hardness? Many, if not most, of the subjects of her essays wind up dead. Accidents, murder, suicide are often mentioned at the end of each chapter. But through the lens of Kushner's writings, it's hard not to admire them, and maybe even envy–as Denis Johnson describes–"people who totaled their souls."

  17. 5 out of 5

    Glen Helfand

    I recently read Kushner's last novel, "The Mars Room," which may or may not been a good lead in to this essay collection. Mars is a tightly faceted book. "The Hard Crowd" does offer some great insight into Kushner's interests and back story. It opens some windows into her process and interests, it shows us how aspects of her life are reflected in her fiction. There is research and autobiography. The latter sorts of essays are those that work best in the book, they've got a lot more life than the I recently read Kushner's last novel, "The Mars Room," which may or may not been a good lead in to this essay collection. Mars is a tightly faceted book. "The Hard Crowd" does offer some great insight into Kushner's interests and back story. It opens some windows into her process and interests, it shows us how aspects of her life are reflected in her fiction. There is research and autobiography. The latter sorts of essays are those that work best in the book, they've got a lot more life than the more critical pieces which are, by nature of the context, cooler in tone. And so "The Hard Crowd" is a mixed bag, with well-written pieces of varying intensity. I feel like I know the writer better, but I wished it were a more major work. And for a writer so steeped in visual art and culture, why wasn't doesn't this book have such an uninspired cover???

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mark Chimel

    This collection is really all over the place and in the beginning I was really confused. However, as I continued the lack of cohesion bothered me less and less because the writing was strong and interesting. The final essay which bears the same title as the collection itself is particular poignant, as is "Is Prison Necessary?". It's not surprising that a collection of writings that span 20 years touch a wide range of themes and many times don't seem to thread together in any way, but this is the This collection is really all over the place and in the beginning I was really confused. However, as I continued the lack of cohesion bothered me less and less because the writing was strong and interesting. The final essay which bears the same title as the collection itself is particular poignant, as is "Is Prison Necessary?". It's not surprising that a collection of writings that span 20 years touch a wide range of themes and many times don't seem to thread together in any way, but this is the main reason that I wouldn't rate this book. However, when viewed as a 20 year portfolio of work there is depth and breadth and just plain great writing contained throughout this collection. *I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jessie

    I am glad I read this collection of essays. The author and I are the same age, but we have lived very different lives. And so I feel very enriched to have read about topics, people, and events I've never even heard of. I think it is a gift to step away from one's regular genres and learn and experience new ideas and histories. The author has a fantastically large and varied vocabulary, which I enjoyed tremendously. I found her essays thought-provoking to see how the essays were pieced together a I am glad I read this collection of essays. The author and I are the same age, but we have lived very different lives. And so I feel very enriched to have read about topics, people, and events I've never even heard of. I think it is a gift to step away from one's regular genres and learn and experience new ideas and histories. The author has a fantastically large and varied vocabulary, which I enjoyed tremendously. I found her essays thought-provoking to see how the essays were pieced together and how often seemingly unrelated things came together in her writing. I received a copy of this book at no cost in exchange for a review. This did not alter my opinion. I am sincerely glad to have discovered this book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Clare

    The Hard Crowd is a collection of essays about culture and politics. I had read Rachel Kushner's novel The Mars Room and loved it (even went on to buy it for a friend), so I was intrigued to read this collection. There really is a mix here - something for everyone. The opening essay about Kushner’s participation in an illegal motorbike race on the Baja Peninsula was probably my favourite - it sounded terrifying and exciting all at once. She does seem to like anything to do with motors, as a late The Hard Crowd is a collection of essays about culture and politics. I had read Rachel Kushner's novel The Mars Room and loved it (even went on to buy it for a friend), so I was intrigued to read this collection. There really is a mix here - something for everyone. The opening essay about Kushner’s participation in an illegal motorbike race on the Baja Peninsula was probably my favourite - it sounded terrifying and exciting all at once. She does seem to like anything to do with motors, as a later essay showed. This one wasn’t really for me, but this is a collection where there is something for everyone. The chapter on wild cat strikes was interesting, as were the ones where she describes her formative years in her hometown and the music concerts she went to (loved these too). The last essay in the book played out as though it was on a film in my head. The essay about prison reform was really thought provoking, as was that of when Kushner visited a Palestinian refugee camp. I could easily have read more of this one - no matter how saddening it ultimately was. Rachel Kushner really can write. As she did in The Mars Room, each of these essays really evoked a time and place and made this book pretty hard to put down. Many thanks to Jonathan Cape for inviting me to read this via NetGalley.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Rachel Kushner delivers a masterclass in writing to engage the audience. Here are two decades of her essays on politics, culture, writing and cars. A 2018 Booker prize finalist for The Mars Room, Kushner writes about a Palestinian refugee camp, 1970s wildcat strikes, Alain Delon, Elvis, the writing of Clarice Lispector and Cormac McCarthy, and growing up in San Francisco. Her personal reminiscences place the reader in the scene. We share her nostalgia for a motorbike race on the Baja Peninsula, a Rachel Kushner delivers a masterclass in writing to engage the audience. Here are two decades of her essays on politics, culture, writing and cars. A 2018 Booker prize finalist for The Mars Room, Kushner writes about a Palestinian refugee camp, 1970s wildcat strikes, Alain Delon, Elvis, the writing of Clarice Lispector and Cormac McCarthy, and growing up in San Francisco. Her personal reminiscences place the reader in the scene. We share her nostalgia for a motorbike race on the Baja Peninsula, and an IHOP dining booth where the young Rachel was a waitress. From the opening line to the last word, Kushner hooks you in with her conversational tone. Vivid. My thanks to Netgalley and Random House UK, Vintage for the ARC.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ciaran McLarnon

    I really enjoyed reading The Hard Crowd by Rachel Kushner - a diverse and fascinating batch of thoughtful essays full of wonderful characters and insights. From autobiographical accounts of working in theatres and bars in San Francisco to a review of work of prison abolitionist Ruth Gilmore, Kushner's essays cover a range of topics with a few common themes. Her book research brought her to Italy which features in few essays as does San Francisco the city she moved to in childhood and where she sp I really enjoyed reading The Hard Crowd by Rachel Kushner - a diverse and fascinating batch of thoughtful essays full of wonderful characters and insights. From autobiographical accounts of working in theatres and bars in San Francisco to a review of work of prison abolitionist Ruth Gilmore, Kushner's essays cover a range of topics with a few common themes. Her book research brought her to Italy which features in few essays as does San Francisco the city she moved to in childhood and where she spent formative years. Kushner is also a fan of cars and motorcycles which also pop up more than once. Unsurprisingly Kushner reviews a number of authors' novels - such as the slightly obscure Brazilian Clarice Lispector but also the more familiar Cormac McCarthy.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Trevor Stokes

    This is sort of like going to a party where you meet a middle-aged woman who talks about the most obscure films, bars that have long shut down, and name drops stars who are long dead. At the end without giving anything away she states: "Get your own gig. Make your litany, as I have just made mine. Keep your tally. Mind your dead, and your living, and you can bore me." so was she intentionally boring us? The first and last essays were the strongest, the first one being a crazy motorcycle race tha This is sort of like going to a party where you meet a middle-aged woman who talks about the most obscure films, bars that have long shut down, and name drops stars who are long dead. At the end without giving anything away she states: "Get your own gig. Make your litany, as I have just made mine. Keep your tally. Mind your dead, and your living, and you can bore me." so was she intentionally boring us? The first and last essays were the strongest, the first one being a crazy motorcycle race that she was part of and the last one being a sentimental look at San Francisco in the '80s. Lastly, she seems to know a lot of people who have died for someone in her early fifties.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bella

    I love me an essay collection, and this was a great one. I felt like I was sinking into another world, and I very much want to have a meal with Kushner just to hear her thoughts on art and Italy and life itself. Where her writing *didn't* click for me was in her endings (all of which seemed to be a paragraph short?) and the minutiae of artists' lives that bogged down a handful of essays, distracting from what makes her own observations sing. But all said, definitely worth a read. My favorites, to I love me an essay collection, and this was a great one. I felt like I was sinking into another world, and I very much want to have a meal with Kushner just to hear her thoughts on art and Italy and life itself. Where her writing *didn't* click for me was in her endings (all of which seemed to be a paragraph short?) and the minutiae of artists' lives that bogged down a handful of essays, distracting from what makes her own observations sing. But all said, definitely worth a read. My favorites, to keep a record: Girl on a Motorcycle; In the Company of Truckers; Is Prison Necessary?, and Bunny.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Pamela Scott

    https://thebookloversboudoir.wordpres... 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 https://thebookloversboudoir.wordpres... 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.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rhea

    Kushner’s work makes me want to ride motorcycles, and think about old friends who died, and join a labor movement. But mostly it makes me want to own my own stories. There’s purpose and drive to this collection of essays, and yet an elegance to the prose that gives such pleasure. I’m not surprised Kushner moved away from San Francisco- we get glimmers off the place she grew up here now, but it’s mostly all shellacked over. Her words are an elegy to a place that has changed but is still there som Kushner’s work makes me want to ride motorcycles, and think about old friends who died, and join a labor movement. But mostly it makes me want to own my own stories. There’s purpose and drive to this collection of essays, and yet an elegance to the prose that gives such pleasure. I’m not surprised Kushner moved away from San Francisco- we get glimmers off the place she grew up here now, but it’s mostly all shellacked over. Her words are an elegy to a place that has changed but is still there sometimes, if you squint, like faeries in Ireland.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lissa

    I love a good essay collection and was really looking forward to this one. Overall, though, it was a mixed bag for me. I liked her essays on social issues and nostalgia but there were a few (especially on art and media) that I would start and then eventually lose interest. I did enjoy her writing so I think I would like her fiction, which I surprisingly have not read, much more. I received a digital ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rachael Johnson

    The Hard Crowd confirms Rachel Kushner as one of the most interesting contemporary writers. She's interesting because she's interested in many things- as one should be. The Hard Crowd is a fascinating collection of essays covering cultural history, literary criticism and memoir. It addresses subjects as diverse as music, art, bikes, truckers, Italian left-wing politics in the 197os, Palestine and prison abolition. HIGHLY recommend. The Hard Crowd confirms Rachel Kushner as one of the most interesting contemporary writers. She's interesting because she's interested in many things- as one should be. The Hard Crowd is a fascinating collection of essays covering cultural history, literary criticism and memoir. It addresses subjects as diverse as music, art, bikes, truckers, Italian left-wing politics in the 197os, Palestine and prison abolition. HIGHLY recommend.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chris Roberts

    I don't vibe essays A collection of abnormalities, pretexts They exist absurdly and are absent one verity Familial ties are a myth Absent genetics A mother owes her child absolutely nothing The daughter owes her mother not one glance backward. Chris Roberts, Patron Saint of Part-Time Humans I don't vibe essays A collection of abnormalities, pretexts They exist absurdly and are absent one verity Familial ties are a myth Absent genetics A mother owes her child absolutely nothing The daughter owes her mother not one glance backward. Chris Roberts, Patron Saint of Part-Time Humans

  30. 4 out of 5

    William B

    Really diverse subjects tackled by this writer, for example prison reform or abolition,Red Brigades in 1970s Italy, working in rock venues in San Francisco, and portraits of artists and writers I had never heard of but the writer made me wish I had . ,such as Clarice Lispector. Kushner is a brilliant writer and makes you experience her subjects.

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