...one of the best books of next year will be Howard Hampton's Born in Flames.
I had the honor of editing a few of the pieces in their original incarnations, both for the PTSNBN and The Believer. Born is a generous helping of the best of this dazzling wordslinger, and it includes terrific pieces on Hong Kong cinema, Buffy and D.H. Lawrence, and Sting (a review so dead-on that it compelled an enraged Gordon Sumner to write a letter).
Let's hear what a distinguished academic has to say:
Born in Flames seems to have sprung from the pen of someone who walked out of the apocalyptic ending of Nathanael West's The Day of the Locust. While by no means parochial, his is a vision deeply grounded in Southern California, resting on a worldview shaped by violence, unkept promises, and a cornucopia of images, spectacle, and pop commodities. Hampton is a polymath and cultural omnivore, and what emerges from the pages of this dizzying and dazzling collection is an example of what important criticism is and can be: critical intervention not only into the meanings of individual genres and oeuvres but into our culture generally.
--David Suisman, Assistant Professor of History, University of Delaware