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Paperback | $14.95 Trade | £12.95 | 104 pp. | 5.375 x 8 in | 42 color photos | October 2015 | ISBN: 9781584351733
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The Irresponsible Magician

Essays and Fictions


As any good magician or psychoanalyst knows, it’s the deliberate chalking of a particular square that allows for the discovery of personal order and private mythology.
—from The Irresponsible Magician

Sharp, acerbic, and often humorous, Rebekah Rutkoff's writings about contemporary culture reflect the present in ways reminiscent of Renata Adler’s and Joan Didion's writings about urban life in the late twentieth century. Moving freely between fact and fiction, utilizing imaginary interviews, accidental stories, and critical essays, The Irresponsible Magician approaches psychoanalysis and celebrity on a first-name basis. Writing about cultural figures as diverse as Oprah Winfrey, Michel Auder, the Kennedy women, William Eggleston, Gregory Markopoulos, and Hilda Doolittle, Rutkoff interprets protagonists as if they were figures in a dream. Navigating a world of painting, cable television, video art, avant-garde film, memories, or Rutkoff's own photographs, these texts read images like tea leaves, opening up a space in which shadows speak more eloquently than symbols or signs.

About the Author

Rebekah Rutkoff is a New York-based writer, artist, and teacher. She is currently completing books on the American filmmakers Robert Beavers and Gregory Markopoulos and is the editor of a forthcoming volume of writings by and about Beavers. Her work has appeared in publications including Artforum, Bookforum, Fence, Animal Shelter, and World Picture. She is the recipient of a Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant for a new project on the artist Lillian Schwartz.


“The rhythmic structure of Rutkoff's book separates mediums, encounters, first and second impressions, colors and symbols in sequences that relate without overlap in a clever and comic meditation on language, thought and abstraction.”—Canadian Art
“Rebekah Rutkoff’s collection... is exploratory and pushes beyond what we have often come to expect from our books...”—Vagabond City


“Rebekah Rutkoff’s fertile mind disrupts the conventional, leaping over the usual ways of seeing and thinking. She embraces the imagination, refuses oppositions, say, between rational and irrational, and, like H.D., welcomes dreams as the mind’s unconscious, helpful messenger. Her lovely, rhythmic sentences are delightful, as is her special comprehension of the visual and written.”
Lynne Tillman