Reviewed: One Hour of Television by Kristina Born

(Year of the Liquidator, 2009) 147 p.
Review by Tobias Carroll

The scenes, lectures, and digressions that comprise One Hour of Television come at you quickly, and if a pattern exists, it isn’t readily apparent. Lara Glenum’s blurb on the back cover raises the notion of channel-surfing, and that may be the best comparison for the sort of collage effect that Kristina Born’s book evokes. Cycle through enough stations and you’ll eventually find patterns; you’ll be bombarded with loping cross-sections of plot alongside aphorisms and politicized declarations and moments that, removed from any context, seem fundamentally alien. It’s dizzying, but that’s the point.

Some of One Hour of Television’s pages abound with text; others contain a handful of lines. Some have only one. Yet the book lingers: Born provides connective tissue: a trauma-filled trip to Las Vegas; a depressive recounting the plot of Erin Brockovich. Other sections hold a funhouse mirror up to American politics, like this feverish re-imagining of Cold War-era history: “In Eden dwelled dinosaurs and Communism came and killed the dinosaurs.” Given the narrative delirium, the surreal politics, and the book’s immersion in the larger scope of media, your best foothold for a point of reference may well be the the films of Alex Cox. While a cross-disciplinary comparison might seem out of order, given Born’s title and approach here, it seems entirely appropriate for this neatly unclassifiable volume.