MixedThe New Republic... the book becomes, unintentionally, a window into rural gentrification: the migration of affluent urbanites and suburbanites to the country. That she doesn’t see her move in these terms, at a time when second-home buyers have spurred a \'freak-out housing market\' in upstate New York, only highlights just how under-recognized rural gentrification is ... On some level, Shirk seems aware that migrating upstate might count as gentrification, but she takes pains not to fully acknowledge this fact ... Ultimately, it’s this blind spot—Shirk’s inability to see locals—that most troubles me. When Shirk conducts fieldwork, visiting The Farm in Tennessee or Black Mountain College in North Carolina, she talks to people and learns about these communities. In Delaware County, locals rarely warrant attention ... These blind spots matter because they stifle an important conversation before it can start ... Writers like Shirk who take part in amenity migration should acknowledge these class divisions. Which isn’t to say acknowledgment is an end point: If Shirk had slotted in \'rural gentrification\' alongside \'imperialism\' in her litany at the top of the hill, this would have been something, but not much. To paraphrase Katy Waldman’s critique of self-awareness in contemporary fiction, awareness doesn’t equal atonement. But awareness is a first step. Only once we’re aware of rural gentrification can we talk about its effects and consider how to bridge the two worlds in the Catskills and areas like it.
MixedFull StopCertain moments — certain images — are striking, precise, and lovely, if a bit overwrought ... And, in passages of interiority, Musil gets at the mystery of being alive in the world ... What Musil does beautifully here — what he does, consistently, in his best passages — is chart the border between inside and outside worlds, illustrating the tension between what’s in our heads and what’s actually out there ... Musil seems simultaneously fascinated by the specter of psychoanalysis...and dismissive of its simplicity. As deep as we are in the consciousness of these characters, we rarely understand why they do what they’re doing, because they don’t understand this themselves. Peter Wortsman admits, in his afterword, that he \'cried out with joy and relief\' upon finishing his translation. While I hate to admit it, I felt much the same when I reached the end of Intimate Ties. These novellas are for students of Musil, students of German literature, and students of modernism. These novellas are for the completist.