'Kushner's gifts as a poet war with the more practical intentions of the novelist – like perfectly rendered pearls in a life-size portrait, her specificity draws the eye too close and muddles the focus on the whole.
The most successfully realised section takes place in Italy, at the family home of Reno's aristocratic boyfriend, Sandro, son of Valera. Here, Kushner is all novelist, portraying the rich with a cruel rapture that bears comparison with Alan Hollinghurst's. Suddenly, her characters breathe. Even the inscrutable Reno enjoys a moment of primal conquest. Up in their bedroom, as Sandro shoos a moth out of the window, she thinks, "He didn't care about moths. He did it for me. I was the only American girl here, I reminded myself as he chased it around the room in his underwear. The only one."'
Talitha Stevenson has not enjoyed Rachel Kushner's new book. Unlike James Wood, and a host of other fans.
Well, well. We shall see. I have The Flamethrowers to read (and encouraged another potential reader at the point of sale! doesn't happen to me often!) and I'm not going to be put off that easily.