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The Hard Crowd: Essays 2000-2020 by Rachel Kushner

The Hard Crowd: Essays 2000-2020 by Rachel Kushner

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From a writer celebrated for her “chops, ambition, and killer instinct” (John Powers, Fresh Air), a career-spanning collection of spectacular essays about politics and culture.

Rachel Kushner has established herself as “the most vital and interesting American novelist working today” (The Millions) and as a master of the essay form. In The Hard Crowd, she gathers a selection of her writing from over the course of the last twenty years that addresses the most pressing political, artistic, and cultural issues of our times—and illuminates the themes and real-life experiences that inform her fiction.

In nineteen razor-sharp essays, The Hard Crowd spans literary journalism, memoir, cultural criticism, and writing about art and literature, including pieces on Jeff Koons, Denis Johnson, and Marguerite Duras. Kushner takes us on a journey through a Palestinian refugee camp, an illegal motorcycle race down the Baja Peninsula, 1970s wildcat strikes in Fiat factories, her love of classic cars, and her young life in the music scene of her hometown, San Francisco. The closing, eponymous essay is her manifesto on nostalgia, doom, and writing.

These pieces, new and old, are electric, vivid, and wry, and they provide an opportunity to witness the evolution and range of one of our most dazzling and fearless writers. “Kushner writes with startling detail, imagination, and gallows humor,” said Leah Greenblatt in Entertainment Weekly, and, from Paula McLain in the Wall Street Journal: “The authority and precision of Kushner’s writing is impressive, but it’s the gorgeous ferocity that will stick with me.”


“I honestly don't know how she is able to know so much (about motorcycle racing, Italian radical politics) and convey all of it in such a completely entertaining and mesmerizing way.”—George Saunders

“This is a book of attitude—attitude distilled so finely it becomes philosophy, a matter of telling truth from lie.”—Greil Marcus

“In her first book of essays, The Hard Crowd, the novelist Rachel Kushner reminds us that she writes as well as any writer alive about the pleasure of a good motor doing what it was designed to do… There are intuitive appraisals of writers such as Denis Johnson, Clarice Lispector, Marguerite Duras and Cormac McCarthy… There are a pair of long, moving essays about growing up semi-feral in San Francisco in the late 1970s and early ’80s… But The Hard Crowd swings back around to engines and to motion. The author had found wings; she meant to use them. We watch her move her soul around…[Kushner has a]  wary voice, cool and wise, with real power and control…[and] typical aphoristic grace.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times

“[Kushner’s] writing is magnetized by outlaw sensibility, hard lives lived at a slant, art made in conditions of ferment and unrest … She’s mining a rich seam of specificity, her writing charged by the dangers she ran up against. And then there’s the frank pleasure of her sentences … I’m glad to taste something this sharp, this smart.” 
Olivia Laing, The Guardian

Publisher: Scribner
ISBN: 978-1982157692
Pages: 272