Crudo is the book I didn’t know I needed. Highly experimental and introspective, the novel’s entirety is spent inside the head of forty-year-old writer Kathy, who is meant to be the persona of established American novelist Kathy Acker (1947-1997), as she faces the ever-changing world around her: her individual world, as she gets married and ends her life as a single woman, and the political world, suffering from the repercussions of Trump and Brexit. Crudo is the kind of book you could read in one sitting and revisit time and time again without bother.
From the jacket:
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 might be Kathy Acker.
From a Tuscan hotel for the super-rich 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?
At just 130 pages, Crudo is barely a novel; it’s a steam-of-conscious sprint through one woman’s contemporary point-of-view. As a young American, it was interesting and eye-opening to read from a British perspective on the current political climate. Though Crudo is a work of fiction, it read very true-to-life, touching on topics like global warming, Brexit, and North Korean politics, while very much focusing on Trump and the “Fake News” era. Sure, sometimes the commentary and the context went a bit over my head, but there were also times when Laing’s (or “Acker’s”) words just clicked, and I completely related to the message she portrayed. Those are the moments that made this book work for me, despite my small struggle with the inaccessibility of the experimental prose.
“Everyone talked about politics all the time but no one knew what was happening.”
-Olivia Laing, Crudo
Brief, thought-provoking, and a bit bizarre, Olivia Laing’s Crudo succeeds in capturing the current social and political climate unlike any other written work today. It’s claustrophobic with originality and teeming with voice, and perfect for fans of experimental stream-of-consciousness narratives or thought-provoking fiction that reads like nonfiction.
Thank you to W. W. Norton for my copy of Crudo by Olivia Laing. All thoughts are my own.
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