Stephen Piccarella

All articles by this author

Law of Opposites

Law of Opposites

Instagram is crowded with skaters no one’s heard of pulling off tricks so hard they don’t even look cool

Verso offers no conscious political argument, although Suciu does follow Verso Books on Instagram. Still, the parallel is appealing. Is there an esoteric or intriguing association or parallel between aesthetic radicals and political radicals? They work in separate spheres, but both position themselves simultaneously as students of and dissenters to their respective traditions.

The Prison House of Language

The Prison House of Language

On Rachel Kushner and Sergio De La Pava

The women in the novel are subjected to sexual violence so regularly that it is treated as if it is just another part of their punitive program. For many of them, this sexual violence is not unique to their time in jail. Kushner wisely demonstrates throughout the novel that patriarchy and its parallel oppressive structures are not phenomena specific to incarceration; they groom these characters from birth to feel comfortable in the rigidly authoritative structures of prisons. “I had been a waitress at IHOP right after I graduated high school,” Romy says. “I was waitress 43, and the cooks would call, Forty-three! Your order is up! Which, as I only saw later, had been preparing me for here.” With wrenching flashbacks to Romy’s youth that bare the bruises of innocence forcibly taken, Kushner shows us Romy navigating and bucking authority throughout her life, in her predatory friendships, in her work as a stripper, and in her experiences with men. By the time she ends up in prison, like the rest of the women around her, she hardly has the capacity to question or resist authority.