Fashion Book: The Flamethrowers
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.
Have you read it? What did you think?