ONE of our favorite debuts in recent years is Rachel Kushner's Telex From Cuba. I was aware of this novel only because of a tip from New York literary agent Chris Calhoun, and once I read the galleys I was a bit abashed to see what a substantial talent was here in my city, until then invisible to me.
In any case, Rachel is invisible no more. Here sophomore novel, The Flamethrowers, which came out this week, is drawing rave reviews in the US and UK, and enthusiastic coverage, including an NPR interview I have not yet heard. The new novel is about speed, sex, motorcycles, Italy, '70s New York and the art world (a few of our favorite things.)
So far, it seems to me even better than the Cuba book. (She explored some of the themes in her book in a recent review of Richard Hell's new memoir in the New York Times Book Review.)
The New Yorker's James Wood calls it "scintillatingly alive, and also alive to artifice." Dwight Garner just wrote one of his characteristically electric reviews of the novel.
HERE is my interview with Rachel from a few years ago. I recently met with the Echo Park resident at a groovy nearby cafe (braving the treacherously steep Baxter to get there), and have another story on the author and her work coming soon. Until then, pick up The Flamethrowers.