TQC Favorites of 2012: K.T. Kahn

K.T. Kahn reviewed Inland by Gerald Murnane in our fall 2012 issue.

1. Ice by Anna Kavan
Kavan creates a world that is the stuff of nightmares, blending reality, dreams, and fantasy in an uncanny, unsettling way. Kavan certainly deserves a much wider audience.

2. Zazen by Vanessa Veselka
A truly prescient novel that taps into many political, social, and personal anxieties prevalent in America today. Veselka’s prose is raw, unflinching, poetic: Zazen is a truly remarkable debut novel. Veselka has said that Zazen arose from her inability to process the 2004 school hostage crisis in Beslan; as an analysis of our culture of violence, her novel is eerily relevant and a necessary read in the wake of the recent Newtown, CT tragedy.

3. Satantango by Laszlo Krasznahorkai
A maddening, prophetic book: Krasznahorkai is a master at plumbing the depths of humanity as well as despair. See my review of Satantango in the LARB: http://lareviewofbooks.org/article.php?id=738

4. The Walk by Robert Walser
W. G. Sebald called Walser “a clairvoyant of the small,” and The Walk is a tremendous, wide-ranging meditation on life in microcosmic scenes.

5. The Plains by Gerald Murnane
Both ars poetica and an analysis of cultural identity, Murnane’s The Plains is perhaps the best place to begin with this enigmatic and often elusive author.

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ICE is a beautiful work. It reads like a gray smudge of humanity’s worst, and the fact that Kavan was trying to detox from the narcotics addiction that killed her while she was writing it imbues the work with a tone that is unlike any I’ve ever encountered.


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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