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Fashion Book: The Flamethrowers

2014 May 1



When The Flamethrowers came out, there was a lot of buzz. It was lauded as a contender for the GAN (Great American Novel) and much was made about the fact that the author is a woman. I even wrote a bit about this back before I read the book.

Well, now I’ve read it. And while I don’t purport to really know what the Great American Novel actually is, The Flamethrowers is certainly a great novel, written by an American.

Reno, the novel’s protagonist, arrives in New York City alone and bewildered, looking for adventure and a place in the 1970s art scene. Amazingly, she meets Sandro Valera, an Italian artist who falls in love with her and supports her art career. Reno craves speed, and partly as an art project, ends up trying to set a landspeed record on a motorcycle at the Bonneville Salt Flats. This experience lands her a partnership with Valera tires, Sandro’s estranged family’s Italian empire. The two travel to Italy together and spend some miserable time with Sandro’s family in a fancy villa.  After Reno makes an unwelcome discovery, she travels to Rome, where she  ends up embroiled in worker strikes and the Italian Red Brigades.

On the surface, Reno is tough–a young, beautiful artist and motorcycle racer. But she’s really just another lost woman in her 20s, trying to figure out the immense questions of love and art and power dynamics. She’s not the type to care about her outward appearance, though she knows her beauty works in her favor. I put together an outfit I think Reno would wear on her aimless strolls through the New York City streets–straight leg Levi’s, a t-shirt, a camera bag, and of course, motorcycle boots and a leather jacket.

Fashion Book--The Flamethrowers

Fashion Book–The Flamethrowers by jldurso featuring a black jacket

Have you read it? What did you think?

One Response Post a comment
  1. May 2, 2014

    I have read it, and I was actually wholly unimpressed. It seemed, to me, that Kushner was trying very hard to write like a man, as if trying to prove something (which I get), and this was how her idea of a man would write this story about a woman. And I can see why reviewers praised that, but I felt the whole narrative was very forced.

    Also, I realized that I don’t know anything about the Land/Landscape Art movement of the 70s, and it turns out that I don’t care. Kushner seemed to go out of her way to make sure we all understood how much she knew about the Land Art stuff, which I found frustrating and a little obnoxious.

    Your fashion book is spot-on though! Reno would rock that leather.

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