“Crudo” by Olivia Laing – book review

I have three confessions to make.

The first is I’ve never read Kathy Acker. This is probably my loss.

The second is you probably need to have read Kathy Acker to enjoy Crudo, which is written in Kathy’s voice.

The third is I had no idea what Crudo was about when I bought it. Instead, I simply did what I normally do in a bookshop: read the first two pages and, if I don’t shudder in disgust, buy the book. 

This approach normally works but not in this case. Although I respect the idea behind Crudo – especially considering Acker’s reputation for playing with other people’s copy – I just couldn’t read more than half of it, probably because I never read Acker.

To give a snapshot of what the book is about (or at least my best attempt), it’s a book set shortly after Trump’s inauguration and combines events that happened to the author, Olivia Laing, in Kathy’s voice. I think, anyway.

The writing itself is good, but what ultimately alienated me was its setting and preoccupation with the horror of the early Trump years (as opposed to the horror of the current Trump years).

Perhaps it was preaching to the converted in my case, but I just had no interest in reliving that time, or of hearing someone complain about it in the same way I’ve heard countless others (including myself) complain about it. Perhaps it’s too soon, or perhaps I need more joyous fare in a pandemic, or perhaps I’m a grump – but I couldn’t get into this.

However, if anyone does read this blog – which will be a first – and if they did like Crudo, then by all means argue with me in the comments section – I’d love to hear conflicting opinions (especially since I suspect I’m in the minority for not liking this).

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