BTW (Penny-Ante Editions)
Another Skylight favorite, Jarett Kobek, returns with his most comic work yet, a love letter to Los Angeles and terrible relationships. For tonight's reading he will be joined by artist William E. Jones.
Bad relationships, interracial dating, cross-faith intermarriage, the endless pangs of love, reality television, Muslim fundamentalism, Crispin Hellion Glover, Internet pornography, Turkish secularism in the era of Erdoğan, the amorous habits of Thomas Jefferson, errant dogs, monogamous cheeseburger tattoos, alcoholics without recovery, 9/11 PTSD, female Victorian novelists, the people who go to California to die. Jarett Kobek’s second novel, BTW, presents the tragicomedy of a young man in Los Angeles balancing a lunatic father, two catastrophic relationships, identity politics, and American pop culture at its most confused.
Praise for BTW:
“Moving from Williamsburg to Echo Park, Kobek’s account of post-NYU life in the aughts (so generic it can barely be lived, yet alone retold) is surprisingly disrupted as primitive identities of religion and race surface among this young, well-connected, smart and otherwise evolved group of friends. In this, his second novel, Kobek’s writing continues to impress."--CHRIS KRAUS, author of Where Art Belongs and I Love Dick
“Half of BTW is a coming of age novel about the narrator’s romantic entanglements, the most significant of which turns out to be with the city of Los Angeles; the other half is the real love story, played out between the narrator and his father. This father, who is by turns hectoring, profane, and tenderin phone conversations and voicemail messages from his native Turkey, counts as one of the great comic characters in recent fiction, the sort of eccentric with whom you spend a minute in an elevator but can't forget."--William Jones, author of Halstead Plays Himself
"Jarett Kobek’s deceptively artless prose responds like a flower to the sunlight of joy as to the cold rain of alienation. BTW is a book that could be as big as Bright Lights, Big City with the same general framework of a sharply experimental novel that yet can boast a big heart, a joke on every page, an overwhelming city magnificently delineated, and a handful of fascinating and all too real characters.--Kevin Killian, author of Spread Eagle and Impossible Princess
“It’s like Kobek keyed into John Kennedy Toole’s lost biorhythm and resurrected it amid the cosmopolitan absurdities of Los Angeles. Between Tabitha Brown, Khadija, the Butterfed Behemoth and the legendary Mehmet, BTW adds up to a funny and hyper-literate look at failing relationships.”--Ken Baumann, star of the television show The Secret Life of the American Teenager
Jarett Kobek is an American author and essayist living in California. His book ATTA (Semiotexte, 2011) is a fictionalized psychedelic biography of the lead 9/11 terrorist and If You Won’t Read, Then Why Should I Write? was published in 2012 by Penny-Ante Editions, both of which were longlisted for Novel of the Year by 3:AM Magazine. His most recent criticism, «Je suis devenu un magicien noir», was published as a catalogue essay by White Cube of London.
William E Jones is an artist and filmmaker born in Ohio and now living in Los Angeles. He has made two feature length experimental films, Massillon (1991) and Finished (1997), the documentary Is It Really So Strange? (2004), videos including The Fall of Communism as Seen in Gay Pornography (1998) and many installations. His work has been the subject of retrospectives at Tate Modern (2005), Anthology Film Archives (2010), the Austrian Film Museum and Oberhausen Short Film Festival (both 2011). His group shows include the 1993 and 2008 Whitney Biennials, the 53rd Venice Biennale (2009), and “Untitled (Death by Gun)” at the 12th Istanbul Biennial (2011). His books include Is It Really So Strange? (2006), Tearoom (2008),“Killed”: Rejected Images of the Farm Security Administration (2010), Halsted Plays Himself (2011), and Imitation of Christ (2013). His solo exhibition, Heraclitus Fragment 124 Automatically Illustrated, opens at David Kordansky Gallery in January 2014.