Fassbinder Thousands of Mirrors


by Penman, Ian | Non-fiction; Biography/Memoir
Published 19/04/2023 by Fitzcarraldo Editions in the United Kingdom
Paperback | 200 pages

SKU: '9781804270424 Categories: ,


Melodrama, biography, cold war thriller, drug memoir, essay in fragments, mystery – Fassbinder Thousands of Mirrors is cult critic Ian Penman’s long awaited first original book, a kaleidoscopic study of the late West German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder (1945–1982). Written quickly under a self-imposed deadline in the spirit of Fassbinder himself, who would often get films made in a matter of weeks or months, Fassbinder Thousands of Mirrors presents the filmmaker as a pivotal figure in the late 1970s moment between late modernism and the advent of postmodernism and the digital revolution. Compelling, beautifully written and genuinely moving, echoing the fragmentary and reflective works of writers like Barthes and Cioran, this is a story that has everything: sex, drugs, art, the city, cinema and revolution.

Time Out Books of the Year 2023

‘[Fassbinder] Thousands of Mirrors is not a sorrowful kill-your-heroes recanting. It’s much more interesting than that – a freewheeling, hopscotching study of the Fassbinder allure and an investigation of Penman’s younger self…It’s a book about a film-maker but also, hauntingly, about the way our tastes and passions change over time.’
— Anthony Quinn, Observer

‘Do Penman’s flurries of quickfire erudition add up to a dazzling kaleidoscope overall, or a labyrinth of aborted pathways? The answer is “both”. He’s boldly querying his subject’s genius from every vantage point – angry and young; older and (maybe) wiser.’
— Tim Robey, Telegraph

‘Ian Penman is an ideal critic, one who invites you in, takes your coat, and hands you a drink as he sidles up to his topic. He has a modest mien, a feathery way with a sentence, a century’s worth of adroit cultural connections at the ready, and a great well of genuine passion, which quickly raises the temperature.’
— Lucy Sante, author of The Other Paris

‘This is a wonderful book, and a surprisingly encouraging one too. Acute in its glancing survey of Fassbinder’s films, it also engages the early Seventies as a moment of ideological dishevelment that refuses to pass. If Penman lingers over those years in his own taut and revealing way, that is partly because they produced a kind of critical thought that, having not yet been squared up to fit the academic conveyor belt, could be rarified, speculative and experimental while also remaining closely engaged with political reality. Fassbinder is a great model for anyone puzzling over how we might remember as well as think and act in this chaotic time.’
— Patrick Wright, author of The Sea View Has Me Again

‘Ian Penman – critic, essayist, mystical hack and charmer of sentences like they’re snakes – is the writer I have hardly gone a week without reading, reciting, summoning to mind. The writer without whom, etc.’
— Brian Dillon, author of Affinities