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Screen Tests

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  188 ratings  ·  23 reviews
A new work equal parts observational micro-fiction and cultural criticism reflecting on the dailiness of life as a woman and writer, on fame and failure, aging and art, from the acclaimed author of Heroines, Green Girl, and O Fallen Angel.

In the first half of Kate Zambreno’s astoundingly original collection Screen Tests, the narrator regales us with incisive and witty
Paperback, 304 pages
Published July 23rd 2019 by Harper Perennial
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Average rating 3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  188 ratings  ·  23 reviews

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Olivia Garner
Sep 05, 2019 rated it liked it
We have the same taste in artists so I enjoyed reading her quips about those people but sometimes her voice as a writer reads like a 2010 tumblr text post
Joey Shapiro
Nov 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I LOVED this book!! Not least of which because Kate Zambreno and I are obsessed with all the exact same artists (Kathy Acker! Chantal Akerman! Susan Sontag! Clarice Lispector! Marguerite Duras! David Wojnarowicz!). The way all the little essays/memoirs/stories shapeshift from one topic to another one and back again so seamlessly!! I don’t know how to describe her writing style besides calling it very personal and very fluid in the way it blends biography and autobiography so smoothly. Every ...more
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2020
I don’t know. There were some fragments that I really enjoyed (the trifecta of Tallulah Bankhead / Heiress / Louise Brooks in a Mint Green Housecoat was a really interesting examination of like fame, femininity, and aging). But for the most part, I just felt like I was reading a journal that someone had written with the intention of writing a capital-j Journal.
Antonio Delgado
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In the tradition of Benjamin, Sontag and Barthes, Kate Zambrero creates her own. Her fictional persona, even if it is closed to her real self, moves through culture reshaping the establishment. Her voice(s) is evocative of a Joan of Arc who struggles while achieving, like Beckett's Watt and like Dostoevsky's the Idiot, not knowing the lasting impact of her words. This last thing is meant as compliment. Not that many contemporary writers are unafraid to recognize the fragment self and that our ...more
Joseph Dubey
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
Not really my cup of tea. I hate to say anything bad about a book because there are plenty of people out there that will enjoy this book, so i won't. Pick it up and start reading it, you might like it.
Glen Helfand
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Screen has multiple meanings. Zambreno's book, of course, invokes Andy Warhol's droll experiments with cinema, but the screen is also something blank, like a canvas. Her computer screen that shifts between writing and YouTube rabbit holes. There is also the kind of screen that filters, keeps the bugs out (though fleas at one point attack the writer's dog, Genet), but don't keep out the atmosphere. The very compact stories are like phone screens, hand held pictures captured at unexpected moments, ...more
Oct 09, 2019 rated it liked it
I am a pretty big fan of Zambreno. I read what she writes, I see myself in it, I see myself writing like her, I feel like I could read her writing about the process of unclogging a drain and find it brilliant. That being said, I didn’t *love* “Screen Tests”. The book is made up of essays, and the screen tests, which are one to two page stories (a la Lydia Davis) or reports (Gerald Murnane), that reflect or wander around topics like writers (Sontag, Stein, Ferrante), cinema (dogs in film, Meg ...more
Joel Pelanne
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Whatta writer Kate Zambreno is. I read Heroines an loved it, and this collection is similar in tone - centered loosely on the idea of failure, and the obstacles placed in front of female artistic and literary success by a patriarchal society. The final essay in particular is equal parts crushing and hopeful and uplifting.

Zambreno is also very FUNNY. There's bravery to her work, in that she is seems terrified of sounding stupid or revealing herself too much but does so anyway - which creates
xiao zhu
Pretentious shite. Genuinely a struggle to get through this despite how short each chapter is. Had to stop at 49% and go stress-eat some carbs before I could dredge up the will to continue. If I ever see another navel-gazing ramble about Andy Warhol or Edie Sedgwick or literally any other white hipster icon I will throw myself under the shanghai metro. Imagine that a middle-class White Feminist with a degree in gender studies buys a shop in a run-down neighbourhood, converts it into a ...more
Charlotte Carpenter
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
The second half reminded me a little bit of Olivia Liang's "The Lonely City" mostly because Zambreno shares some of the same artist obsessions (Wojnarowicz, Warhol), but rather than a meditation on loneliness she's really into the theme of failure. She writes a lot about her own insecurities as a writer which got a little navel gazey for me at times... but I did really appreciate the nuance with which she speculates about the lives of people who achieved some level of "success" but often met ...more
Oct 08, 2019 rated it liked it
This book makes me feel like:
A) the intellectual white ladies currently gentrifying the neighbourhood I grew up in
B) like I am reading the inner workings of my writer brain.

The “Stories” in the first section we’re definitely my favourite part. The Essays were fine for context but I mean......this is not a book that needed context.
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Kate Zambreno writes essays that make me: scramble to find a pencil (or pen?!) to underline, yelp in recognition, and pause to collect myself. In other words- the best kind.

Topics covered I could read another thousand pages on: Anne Collier's photographs, angry women writers, Elia Kazan and Barbara Loden, contradictory thoughts on Sontag, and female beauty + genius.
Aug 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting style but ultimately not for me. I found the structure of the latter essays a little meandering for my taste. This is also a book that made me feel kind of dumb for not knowing more art stuff.
Kurt Reighley
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Highly recommended for children of Warhol, '80s Village Voice, Gary Indiana, etc.
Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
I don't know enough about film to get any of these references!!
Sep 01, 2019 rated it liked it
nice art bath on the way to finland. mostly read for the four sontag pieces
Katherine Connell
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love her mind, I love this book!
Oct 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
with kate zambreno I don't even have to like the book in order to like the book. that's power.
Catherine Corman
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Perhaps it's our failures, not our successes, that make us artists.

-Kate Zambreno, Screen Tests
Dec 17, 2019 rated it did not like it
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, essays
Name dropping all the cool kids, and I am so here for it.
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
While this book doesn’t have the larger overarching project of her previous nonfiction works, it’s a collection of short microessays plus additional longer pieces. I really enjoy her unapologetic voice and critical eye. What dawned on me while reading this book is that Zambreno is someone in recovery from feeling obligated to be nice to everyone. That freedom shines through her brutal honesty on envy, success, fear of fame, writing, film, culture, art, parenting. It’s also a perfect read for ...more
Jack Petersen
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Jan 17, 2020
Arnav Shah
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Aug 03, 2019
Joe Stanek
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Nov 20, 2019
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Kate Zambreno is the author of the novels Green Girl (Harper Perennial) and O Fallen Angel (Harper Perennial). She is also the author of Heroines (Semiotext(e)'s Active Agents) and Book of Mutter (Semiotexte(e)'s Native Agents). A collection of talks and essays, The Appendix Project, is forthcoming from Semiotext(e) in April 2019, and a collection of stories and other writing, Screen Tests, is ...more
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