Friday, August 24, 2012

Literary manners …

… Giraldi, Ohlin, and the Controversy over “Mean” Reviews — Commentary Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I like to think — I may, of course, as we are wont to do from time to time, be flattering myself — I have never been gratuitously mean in a review. I have certainly written unpleasant things about books and their authors, but I have always thought that the insult was precise and accurate about the perceived fault, and proportionate to that fault. I remember calling Peter Handke's The Left-Handed Woman the longest 89-page book I had ever read, and finding its melodrama unintentionally comic in effect.
As for plain versus baroque style, I can't see this as an either/or business. The style should match the spirit of the tale (or, as the late Aristotle would have it, "the soul of the drama").

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