A freewheeling, hopscotching study of the Fassbinder allure and an investigation of Penman’s younger self ... The stories of subject and writer enfold one another ... It’s a book about a film-maker but also, hauntingly, about the way our tastes and passions change over time.
The culmination of Penman’s ecstatic interrogative style ... Penman’s autodidactic knowledge of and empathy for his subjects eludes progeny like Brian Dillon who rely more on credentialed authority, and direct descendants of the blog era like cokemachineglow lack his unsinkable dedication ... The book finishes strangely, with appendices of disconnected quotes from tangentially related thinkers and artists, petering out in a polyphony of found notecards, as if the energy Penman has built in the book has been exhausted through trying to find the yes-but in an oeuvre that defies such a thing.
For Penman, Fassbinder finally seems too messy, too contradictory, and above all too productive to be folded into the vast, singular, magisterial story that we might expect from a treasured late-middle-age author’s first full-length book ... Penman opted for a different strategy: to write quickly, finishing in a matter of months a critical portrait of Fassbinder in the style of Fassbinder ... The book rushes by in a flurry of numbered one-or-so-paragraph notes. The notes drift, venture lightly and suggestively down quick-flash exploratory tunnels, turn Fassbinder and his films over and peer at them from various heights.