Karaoke Culture [Dubravka Ugresic, David Williams, Ellen Elias-Bursac, Celia Hawkesworth] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Finalist for . Dubravka Ugrešić. Karaoke Culture. Translated from the Croatian and with an Afterword by David Williams. David Williams. Uploaded by. David Williams. —The Independent (UK) Over the past three decades, Dubravka Ugresic h. Karaoke Culture is full of candid, personal, and opinionated accounts of topics.

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Karaoke Culture By Dubravka Ugresic – A Review | By The Firelight

Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Whether it’s commentary on jaded youth, the ways technology has made us soft in the head, or how wrestling a hotel minibar into a bathtub is the best way to stick it to The Man, Ugresic writes with unmatched honesty and panache.

Paperbackpages. Published October 23rd by Open Letter first published September 22nd To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

To ask other readers questions about Karaoke Cultureplease sign up. Lists with This Book. These weren’t the sort of pieces that, based on the karaaoke formidable reputation, I’d variously looked forward to reading, or assumed to be intimidating. In the past few weeks I’ve run into or read several ugfesic about contemporary essayists, so it’s little surprise to me that I started reading one – a recommendation received a while ago, which I’d prematurely passed on to another friend before actually reading her work myself.

A bad habit of mine. Within the first few pages, I realised that these days, I have very specific requirements for an essayist I’m going to like. And not an awful lot of writers are going to fill those. The internet is stuffed with polemic.

Perhaps I now feel no need for published books that add to cuoture cacophony of rants, unless they’re exceptionally well-written, say something one doesn’t see every day, and which I more or ugreskc agree with.

Karaoke Culture By Dubravka Ugresic – A Review

Things I want from a [professional] essayist. The other day I randomly opened Susan Sontag’s Regarding the Pain of Others ; there was just over a page about Georges Bataille keeping a photograph on his desk of a Chinese person being tortured; the writing was perfectly pitched, never losing sight of the horror or of intellectual freedom with a hint of discomfort that did not detract from the essential detachment, but which gave the impression that if one said drily, ” We need people who can stand above and aside from all that.

Or at the very least understands that this is the best destination and tries for it. Makes my brain fizz. For this, I love Will Self’s non-fiction pieces as much as the average Guardian below-the-line commenter hates them.

I suspect I have an imaginary template for an ‘ideal essayist’ or ‘ideal book of essays’ – the hope that there is a non-fiction equivalent of Darkmans by Nicola Barker, which, when I read it infelt like someone had put just about every theme and type of character I’d want to put in a novel, in one, and then added a bunch of extra magic I never would have been able to.

I could put my feet up, secure in the knowledge that it had been said. Not only has someone finally said itsomeone with the audience and the credentials, but via a character who’s calm and wise about exactly the same things that karalke times make me angry, which helps in a whole lot of ways.

Anyway, I’m not much of a fiction writer and I’ve known that for most of my adult life: Oh, and great essayists can make something entirely coherent and seamless, hardly ever having to resort publicly to bullet points and jumpy chapter-by-chapter summaries to half-order their thoughts.

This is the bit where a half-decent piece of writing turns messy. Not only because I didn’t read Karaoke Culture in the order it’s printed. This section features a lot of short, newspaper-column style pieces of just the sort I don’t want to read in essay collections. Haven’t been able to find out if they were first written for a particular publication. Most contain several points that I wanted a lot of elaboration on. Many of them skip around and lack focus.


It’s a bit mean-spirited at times a statement it’s impossible to make without being so oneself I wouldn’t, in print, compare the appearance of the best hairdresser I’d found in years to a walrus, even in an affectionate way, and expect her to have anything to do with me ever again. And I don’t doubt that there are some gold-digging Filipinas in Hong Kong, but there must be a slightly more compassionate way of writing about them than what’s here.

Still, there were a few brain-fizz moments, and interesting insights about Croatia.

Most of them negative, though – she rarely has a good word to say about the place. One of its chief offences appears to karaokee lionising criminals.

In dubdavka last few months, I’ve binge-watched a lot of Scandinavian detective series. Former Yugoslavia is where you get your dodgy bouncer types, big stupid hench-lumps of muscle.

I was hoping to hear another side to the region to counter the accumulating stereotype. Dubravkaa does this kind of confessional-with-a-point, and with a cultural angle, not just blurting everything like some. She moved to Amsterdam in to escape this. A notable remark ddubravka a former colleague states, but we protected you – you weren’t killed.

Which gives some small indication of what it was like: The events happened fifteen years before she wrote the piece, but she’s still very shaken; she isn’t at a point where she’s able to consider that ugrezic of idea, only record the quote.

I would hazard a guess that she hasn’t done therapy about this or didn’t find anything good She examines the ‘witch’ idea not through detached, brief, historical examples; you can feel the unresolved trauma in the discourse more than ever as dubrwvka goes into great detail about witchhunts against old women and children in contemporary rural Africa and India, the punishments and tortures meted out to the accused, and then uses these as metaphors for what she and the other writers experienced.

I routinely nap whilst reading, but very rarely [recall a] dream about the current book: Of these four, the two middle ugrssic are absolutely excellent, both about Croatian and former-Yugoslav literature, using it as ways to explore the history and culture of the region. The tight structure and coherence also throw into even greater relief ‘A Question of Perspective’; how different the discourse is on her most comfortable territory.

Topics in these two great pieces include various communist and post-communist era perspectives on the place politics of in art and literature and a drily witty survey of turn of the 19thth century Croatian novels about young outsider-artist chaps.

Karaoke Culture

That was the time under the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the cool places to go for art and study were Vienna and Prague When reading about another place and time, I love that sound of hinges and cogs as the world changes shape and acquires a new centre.

The author, who’s pretty much addicted to the internet, considers the internet destructive of culture, and comes round to it a bit near the end, which is something we’ve seen in countless pieces.

This was written five years ago, and inevitably some of the content and perspectives are outdated already. On the central topic, there isn’t anything new here – and I’m not sure there would have been in either. Despite my general sympathy with the topic, I didn’t find much to agree with in its treatment here. I think it was better when everyone didn’t think they had a voice, and you had to pass the test of getting a job on a paper, in the same way as those on the centre and left in Britain have for decades agreed that capital punishment should not be subject to a single-issue referendum.


There are plenty of things on which you can’t trust the mob And I wish that the social internet was unchanged in sites and usage levels fromand that there were no smartphones. Though I suppose I have a grudging gratefulness that, rather like the principle of the universal welfare state, internet posting activity is not only for those of us whose options of better things to do are limited. For all its length, there’s so much this essay seems to miss out; it doesn’t address points with much focus: There are a few notable weaknesses.

A lack of appreciation and understanding of kitsch, for one again I invoke Sontag and the heartwarming sincerity that can lie behind kitsch and camp. And, as throughout the volume, a lack of exploration of the meanings and intent behind Yugo-nostalgia and Communist-era vintage trends in Eastern Europe generally. For the author herself it seems obvious why, as it was before that happened – but what about to all those people who supported the various nationalists in the war?

An exhibition of gifts that members of the public sent to Tito. The popularity of Gobelin cross-stitch. A destructive rural equivalent of Poundbury built by a Serbian film director with connections that make him the local equivalent of a Russian oligarch. It drew all the visitors away from a genuine nearby historic village and its inhabitants who made a living selling folk crafts to tourists. This volume could do with more such nods to the idea of even-handedness – I was so often left feeling that I wanted another perspective on the local subjects discussed here.

I picked up this book unprepared, and expecting someone different, someone the author isn’t. What is it to be disappointed in, to give a middling review to, this embattled writer – merely because of personal expectations? Aug 08, Tuck rated it it was amazing.

Sep 04, Larissa rated it really liked it Shelves: Review published in The L Magazinehere: Reading Karaoke Culture is—in the best way possible—much like sitting with a highly caffeinated intellectual over tea. Her cultural touchstones are restricted neither by country nor time nor genre: When these disparate references cohere within one essay, the effect is luminous. The 22 essays in Karaoke Culture read fast—several are only two or three pages—but the collection rewards rumination.

But so much the better. Here she diagnoses contemporary culture in all its facets, underlying the parallels between ideologies and societies that have long understood themselves to be diametrically opposed.

Karaoke Culture – Dubravka Ugrešić

Karaoke Culture is a rarity: Oct 17, John rated it it was amazing Shelves: Ugresic’s titular essay is a bit much – and bows before the antiquated notions of “the canon” as singular artistic bar. I suppose, coming from the fierce and determined world of DIY publishing and music, the snotty fist in the face of the old guard, I have problems with the establish essayists and other monied professionals digging in and looking down their snots at the glorified amateur.

While I cultire with some of the points about the mainstreaming of “non-creation,” I part kxraoke when she bemoan Ugresic’s titular essay is a bit much – and bows before the antiquated notions of “the canon” as singular artistic bar. While I agree with some of the points about the mainstreaming of “non-creation,” I part ways ugrdsic she bemoans the “everyone has a valid voice.

But that sideshow is a scripted and controlled and not at all the karaoke that she seems to want to talk about. Yes, the professional is losing authority.

But the idea that the professional had much authority to begin with creates a false premise. In other words, the professional is fine. What is not fine is the professionals’ bloated sense of universality, of the unquestioned space of authority, and the self-importance that was completely self-created by the late s.