The Flamethrowers

The Flamethrowers

Audiobook CD - 2013
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The year is 1975 and Reno--so-called because of the place of her birth--has come to New York intent on turning her fascination with motorcycles and speed into art. Her arrival coincides with an explosion of activity in the art world--artists have colonized a deserted and industrial SoHo, are staging actions in the East Village, and are blurring the line between life and art. Reno meets a group of dreamers and raconteurs who submit her to a sentimental education of sorts. Ardent, vulnerable, and bold, she begins an affair with an artist named Sandro Valera, the semi-estranged scion of an Italian tire and motorcycle empire. When they visit Sandro's family home in Italy, Reno falls in with members of the radical movement that overtook Italy in the seventies. Betrayal sends her reeling into a clandestine undertow.

The Flamethrowers is an intensely engaging exploration of the mystique of the feminine, the fake, the terrorist. At its center is Kushner's brilliantly realized protagonist, a young woman on the verge. Thrilling and fearless, this is a major American novel from a writer of spectacular talent and imagination.

Publisher: Grand Haven, Mich. : Brilliance Audio, p2013.
ISBN: 9781469287089
Characteristics: 13 sound discs (14 hr., 55 min.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in. --
Additional Contributors: Traister, Christina


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Aug 13, 2018

I really did not like this book, but it held my attention long enough so that I did get all the way through it. A Goodreads member named Wendy gave it this review, which encapsulates my primary complaint about the book:

"Reading this was like sitting in the back of a cab. You're pretty sure you're headed SOMEWHERE but the way is circuitous, confusing and sometimes nonsensical. It drives just like a cab, quick accelerations that slam you into the seat and jarring stops that throw you into your seatbelt, none of it for a good reason. Maybe, you think, this kind of slam start/slam stop driving has a purpose? Maybe saves gas? Maybe cruel fun at the expense of the rider? Maybe simple ahead, stop now! Your thoughts are similar as you read this book. You think "There is probably an underlying structure here, a reason for this 'style'", and briefly you feel you're getting it when you slam into another hipster moment and it turns you off to caring about the underlying themes, to even finishing the book. Maybe that IS the theme. Playing with the real and the fake. But overall it was choppy, unsatisfying and self congratulatory ..."

The moment it was over for me? Kushner's story COMPLETELY lost me at the breakup when Reno catches Sandro kissing his cousin. Reno ends up bolting and all her angst is spent on how the cousin is fat and ugly compared to Reno - but not a single bit of outrage does she express on the fact her man is in a sexual relationship with his cousin. Everything felt false and unbelievable to me after this point in the novel.

Aug 09, 2015

This recording is full of skips. Couldn't listen to it.

Jan 13, 2014

What was billed as a book about a girl and her motorcycle turned out to be something much bigger and weirder, in an awesome way. Reno is a hot young thing trying to break into the performance art scene in 1970s New York. She's tall, blonde, naïve, rides an Italian motorcycle, and she's in love with all the wrong men. If The Flamethrowers were an obscure art house film, it would have the sexiness of Belle du Jour meets the cool machismo of Paris, Texas plus a ridiculously attractive cast. The story follows her from the Salt Flats to the Bowery to a violent Red Brigades rally in Rome, exploring enormous arty themes like time, speed, truth, sex, desire, labor, violence, and war, all with a stripped down swagger. It took practically the whole thing to win me completely over, but ultimately it's one of the best books I read from 2013 and I'm so glad I stuck with it.

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