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Seven American Deaths and Disasters Paperback – March 12, 2013

3.9 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"...it’s like nothing he’s done. It knocks the air from your lungs."
-The New York Times

"This book feels both like an important historical document and a beautiful example of what the Great American Novel might look like today."
-The Paris Review

"It mingles the language of radio and TV commercials with sometimes bumbling, sometimes heroic reports from journalists filing their first draft of history.  'Seven American Deaths and Disasters' is of a piece with Mr. Goldsmith's provocative literary aesthetic."
-The Wall Street Journal

"The high priest of what he calls Non-Creative Writing, Goldsmith continues
producing books from found texts—in the case of Seven American Deaths and
Disasters, he transcribes radio transmissions announcing famous deaths and other
bad news. His new book is a textual equivalent of Warhol’s Death and Disaster
paintings, ripped from the front pages of the Daily News."
-Publishers Weekly

"Goldsmith's material, unmistakably real, refuses to remain in a literary frame."
-Bookslut

"Kenneth Goldsmith is always ahead of the curve!  Just when readers were becoming used to his “boring” transcriptions of weather or traffic reports, he here reverses the game by turning his attention to the extraordinary: seven cases of assassination, murder, sudden death, or terrorism and how such unforeseen events have been handled by the feckless and unaware media.  Seven Deaths is a real page-turner: you will feel you’re there, living through the horrific events as they unfold."
-Marjorie Perloff, author of "Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New" Century

About the Author

Kenneth Goldsmith's writing has been called "some of the most exhaustive and beautiful collage work yet produced in poetry" by Publishers Weekly. Goldsmith is the author of ten books of poetry, founding editor of the online archive UbuWeb (ubu.com), and the editor of I'll Be Your Mirror: The Selected Andy Warhol Interviews, which was the basis for an opera, Trans-Warhol, that premiered in Geneva in March of 2007. An hour-long documentary on his work, Sucking on Words was first shown at the British Library in 2007. He teaches writing at The University of Pennsylvania, where he is a senior editor of PennSound, an online poetry archive. He held The Anschutz Distinguished Fellow Professorship in American Studies at Princeton University for 2009-10 and received the Qwartz Electronic Music Award in Paris in 2009. In May 2011, he was invited to read at President Obama's A Celebration of American Poetry at the White House, where he also held a poetry workshop with First Lady Michelle Obama. In 2011, he co-edited, Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing and published a book of essays, Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age. Goldsmith was invited to participate in dOCUMENTA(13) in Kassel, Germany, 2012. In 2012, dOCUMENTA(13) published his Letter to Bettina Funcke as part of their "100 Notes—100 Thoughts" book series.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: powerHouse Books; 2.12.2013 edition (March 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1576876365
  • ISBN-13: 978-1576876367
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 0.6 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #543,024 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Reproducing the newscasts as they occurred is a clever gimmick, but the novelty of it wears off before the book is done. Not bad, but not great either. You might give it a shot if the gimmick intrigues you.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In an era of abundant information, a chapbook of transcribed disaster reports could easily pass by--like seven clicks on Google News.

But Goldsmith's "uncreative writing" is among the most exciting avenues of poetry today, and Seven American Deaths and Disasters is his most beautiful and--really!--readable books yet.

It might be reading too much to take the book as a critique of both solipsism and apathy, but in the context of poetry the scripts of these unscripted moments pack a wallop.

Also, the book is completely beautiful. I expected the same lackluster design that befalls most poetry books, but the production has remarkable details I don't want to spoil.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This short book has an interesting premise...transcripts from radio stations of famous events during our lifetimes as reporters and other struggle to explain what has happened. The 7 events were: JFK's assassination, RFK's assassination, John Lennon's murder, the Challenger explosion, Columbine, the World Trade Center on 9/11, and the death of Michael Jackson.

It was intriguing on several levels, especially when the transcript included what was happening on the radio when the news first broke, as with the JFK assassination. There's a lot of repetition but the transcripts provide insights into the times, with the Dallas radio reporter on 11/22/63 calling it a "dastardly deed" whereas the more recent examples offered much more colloquial language.

I found that the two events that occurred when I was two young to remember--JFK and RFK--were more interesting to me. For the others, the later events, I remember them much better and these transcripts didn't hold my interest as well. My mind kept drifting off to what I remember, rather than the actual transcript provided.

I understand that the author has a book that contains the entire transcript of the longest 9-inning baseball game, as well as one that includes every weather segment for a year at a radio station. Another book focuses on traffic reports. It might be worth giving one or more of those a try, to see how those compare to this one.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really thought the choices of the first three stories were smart. The selected transcriptions were informing and interesting. However from Lennon on, aside from Columbine, the choices were a bit trite and not diverse enough to represent our nation. It was interesting to watch the change in the tone of radio djs. But after the first part of the book I was just disappointed by the choices the author made in what he included and disclosed.
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Format: Paperback
Goldsmith has curated 7 texts describing American deaths and disasters that many of us think we recall vividly. I was particularly moved by the chapters on the death of John Lennon and the Columbine shootings, realizing how much legend has infiltrated and shaped the telling of these events. The effect of reading the transcriptions is that I cannot help but turn to my search engines for images, footage, and other re-tellings of these very same events. Some may find "too much" information in these transcriptions and crave the editorial touch, but that is exactly the portal Goldsmith has created for us to understand he is acting as the artist, not the writer, making us aware of our fast paced world and our desire to superficially understand it with headlines and quick, imprecise talking points. The book functions on many levels, but I vote for it as being a stunning piece of conceptual art.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this, despite the morbid subject matter. The cultural differences and differences in the way major events were very apparent in JFK. Columbian hit pretty hard, not just because I lived through it, but because of how short and personal it was, not to mention what was left unsaid at the end. 9/11 brought back a lot of memories for me and struck a nerve with the speculation and reactionary hate that has become so common in the U.S. since. Great read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
So far I have only read the first chapter [or what ever this author calls them] about the JFK assassination. It follows the event using a transcript of a Dallas radio's broadcast starting before the assassination and ending with the announcement of the death of the president. If the rest of the book is as interesting I will be even happier about this purchase than I am now.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I wasn't really sure what I expected from this book. I admit, I am the type of person who enjoys the raw emotion inherent in something like this, but the degree to which this read like poetry surprised me. There is something much more meaningful in the mundane - and despite the author's objections, I do think there's something very mundane about all of these transcriptions - than we ever give it credit for, and I appreciate that this book gave me the opportunity to see that.

It's not perfect by any means. I think some of the event choices were odd, and I wish more time had been spent on something like Columbine rather than Michael Jackson. But then again, the beauty of it is that the author is writing about what moved and effected him - I can always go do my own transcription for things that I find more meaningful.

I highly recommend this book!
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