A Review of Harmony Korine’s Book, A Crackup at the Race Riots, Bridging Conventional Critical Practices with Korine’s Fragmented Methodology:
1. Photographer Larry Clark is best known for the iconic photobook Tulsa, a document of sex, drugs, and violence among young people in Oklahoma. Clark’s 1971 book was accused of exploiting his young charges, and Clark’s admission that he partied with his subjects runs a fine line between documentary and bad-boy indulgence. It seems a natural that Clark would give Harmony Korine his first shot of notoriety. Korine wrote the screenplay for Clark’s 1995 movie Kids, an expose/possible exploitation of another generation of teenage sex and drugs.
2. A dwarf in a Ku Klux Klan hood has AIDS.
3. Korine has since been a kind of cause célèbre, making difficult and some would say self-indulgent movies under the forgiving auspices of independent cinema. He has notable defenders, most prominent among them being director Werner Herzog. Herzog has appeared in three of Korine’s films, and contributes a blurb to the Drag City reissue of Korine’s episodic novel A Crack-Up at the Race Riots . “I was struck from the very beginning that there is a totally independent and new voice in writing. I believe that [he] is a great talent as a writer.”
4. Hand-written notes on celebrities and their muffs reproduced in facsimile evoking the DIY essence of the fanzine as well as its self-indulgence.
5. The writer-director’s latest film Spring Breakers, makes a play for mainstream acceptance but is still very much of a piece with his bad boy sensibilities. The publicity machine made big news out of the fact that he cast a pair or former teen stars (Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens) along with his wife in an exploitative look at the annual bacchanal, which Korine both revels and despises.
6. Incestuous suicide note, one of a series of eleven with space for the reader’s signature.
7. So now seems a good time for Drag City to revisit Korine’s 1998 book. The fragmented format and edgy attitude of Korine’s “novel” owes a lot to Kathy Acker’s form-busting fiction . But however you may feel about Acker’s work. it seems to spring from a personal, tortured vision. Crackup seems like the indulgent notes of a wunderkind who thinks that every one of his utterances is worth preserving for posterity. It’s not.
8. That said, I liked Spring Breakers.