A CRACK-UP AT THE RACE RIOTS by Harmony Korine

A CRACK-UP AT THE RACE RIOTS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Riding a gush of critical acclaim for his work on the films Kids (screenwriter) and Gummo (director), Korine, at the ripe age of 23, attempts to make a novel by using a little bit of everything, but botches the job. What we get, in fact, is more an MTV-style collage of lists, story fragments, indecipherable handwritten notes, crude drawings, photos, dialogue, bad jokes, wordplay and pop culture references to music, movies, drugs and death—all resolutely defying cohesion. Still, there a few identifiable thematic concerns. Suicide tops the list, as frequent references culminate in a group of 11 suicide notes, the last of which begins, “Mother, I am in love with you.” Not far behind is a focus on the celebrity life, and in this vein Korine demonstrates a certain breadth of knowledge and interest. A scandal involving silent movie star Fatty Arbuckle is given almost as much attention as the final thoughts of Tupac Shakur, and in between are snippets about Kris Kristofferson, Billie Jean King, Howard Hughes, Matt Dillon, and a cavalcade of others. Jessica Tandy earns especially randy attention (although the motivation behind this is never revealed), and sexual detail pops up in other ways as well, ranging from the incest angle to homophobes planning action. The racial component noted in the title features in a suicide note, and separate photos of the KKK and an unsmiling black boy round out the picture. A final observation notes that “To feel nothing was peace”—perfectly describing the impact of everything in the preceding pages. Neither the voice of a generation nor the ravings of a lunatic, but creative overreaching, clearly—the writing of a talent thrust too soon into the limelight. (Author tour)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-385-48588-3
Page count: 192pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1998