The Hard Crowd: Essays 2000–2020

Scribner. Apr. 2021. 272p. ISBN 9781982157692. $26. LIT
Best-selling novelist Kushner (The Flamethrowers) turns to essays and criticism in this volume, though readers of her fiction will recognize her themes. Many of the pieces in this collection are memorable portraits of artists, writers, and musicians (including Jeff Koons and Marguerite Duras) that emphasize their eccentricities, charisma, and legacies. Kushner’s own voice is always present, but those essays that most directly address her personal experiences feel the most alive. Kushner shares her stories in a way that manages to be personal but not self-serving. In one, she crashes in a motorcycle race, and in another she visits a Palestinian refugee camp. Fans of ’90s music will find her narrative of working at San Francisco’s Warfield and Fillmore Theaters especially captivating. The final essay is also a standout, full of reflections on Kushner’s upbringing in San Francisco and the people and changes she encountered there.
VERDICT There is a great deal of variety and personality in this essay collection, especially for readers with an eye for art, music, and literature. Those who enjoy Kushner’s novels will gravitate to this collection, and readers new to the author’s writing will be drawn in as well.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing