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The Crack Magazine

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The Hard Crowd by Rachel Kushner

The Hard Crowd is Rachel Kushner’s recently published collection of essays some of whose themes provide context to her three novels, and showcase her interest in among other things motorbikes, New York artists, classic muscle cars, prison reform and Italian politics. They’re also a kind of memoir and refer to her parent’s time in England, her years tending music bars in San Francisco and her participation in the Cabo 1000, an illegal (and terrifying) 1,080-mile motorcycle race along the Baja Peninsula. Don’t be put off by the mostly unrelated and wide-ranging subject matter because Rachel Kushner’s essays have a way of grabbing you by the neck and pulling you into places you’d never normally go. One of my favourites in this collection is Popular Mechanics, about the ‘Hot Autumn’ car factory revolts in Italy in 1969 and 1970 and the attempts by Nanni Balestrini to capture them in his novel, We Want Everything. A typically inspirational and beautiful attempt by Rachel Kushner to show that there are other ways of achieving change rather than the ones mapped out by our current masters. “The grass I want doesn’t grow in the king’s garden”, as a slogan from Italy went at the time. The Hard Crowd is a great book.

The Hard Crowd (Essays 2000 – 2020) – Rachel Kushner – Publ. by Jonathan Cape - £18.99

Steven Long

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