Rob Turner

At the Flickering Edge

Seven American Deaths and Disasters

By

powerHouse 176pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

‘Some stories never end,’ wrote Don DeLillo in 2005, reflecting upon Libra (1988), his account of the life and death of Lee Harvey Oswald. ‘Even in our time, in the sightlines of living history, in the retrieved instancy of film and videotape, there are stories waiting to be finished, open to the thrust of reasoned analysis and haunted speculation.’ Seven such haunted speculations make up the bulk of Kenneth Goldsmith’s latest book, a series of direct transcriptions lifted from radio and television news broadcasts, detailing three assassinations (John Lennon and both Kennedys), two mass murders (Columbine and 9/11) and two accidents (Michael Jackson’s death and the NASA Challenger explosion). These events are presented in chronological order and with Goldsmith’s minimal edits carefully highlighted; the book ends with a short but accurate set of ‘Technical Notes’. While many of Goldsmith’s previous works, such as Day (a transcription of an entire edition of the New York Times) were provocative gestures, deliberately unreadable bolts from the vanguard, Seven American Deaths and Disasters seems to represent an urgent – and personal – response to a set of traumatic events lying within DeLillo’s ‘sightlines of living history’. As Goldsmith notes, ‘all seven events depicted here were ones that I lived through which changed me, and a nation, forever’.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Half-way through The Conquest of Water I felt as if I had been subjected to the literary equivalent of excessive c… ,
    • 'Volume five, then, but still no end in sight. Sandbrook is clearly enjoying himself so much he can’t bear the seri… ,
    • 'By the end of the book something so weighty, stylish and impressive has been built up that one feels far nearer to… ,
    • 'Her ensuing psychotic episode is described so convincingly ... that the reader will wonder if Dobrakovová did not… ,
    • 'The perspectives complement and contest one another, amounting to a glorious, atmospheric set of ventriloquisms.'… ,
    • RT : I reviewed The Testaments for . I will not be taking any questions at this time. ,
    • 'The Testaments is, first and foremost, a manual of resistance ... a type of resistance that is organised, articula… ,