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Laura KipnisThis is an important and frequently surprising book. By reframing the history of the avant-garde in terms of cruelty…Nelson is taking on modernism's (and postmodernism's) most cherished tenets. After all, aesthetic shock has underwritten most of our cultural innovation for over a century. So this book could be read as the foundation for a post-avant-garde aesthetics…Nelson's opinions can be quirky and hard to square with one another, but they never fail to be interesting, quite some accomplishment in what could have been a free-form ramble through the mires of someone else's aesthetic preoccupations.
—The New York Times