Thursday, August 25, 2016

Begging to differ …

… Cynthia Ozick Has Issues — And So Do We - Culture – (Hat tip,

Dave Lull.)

I’d like to say these judgments remind me of Edmund Wilson, and not in a good way; his 1945 New Yorker essay “Who Cares Who Killed Roger Ackroyd?” dismissed crime fiction in similarly elitist terms, as “a kind of vice that, for silliness and minor harmfulness, ranks somewhere between smoking and crossword puzzles.” But then, such a comparison relies on precisely the sort of equivalencies that Ozick claims reviewers (as opposed to critics) are not equipped to identify.


  1. Should "John Auerbach" in that list be "Erich Auerbach"? The list seems to me to lump the ephemeral together with the enduring, which ought to be--on Ozick's reading--the fault of the reviewer, not the critic.

  2. I guess it would have to be, because John Auerbach certainly doesn't resonate. I also think your point is well-taken. A reviewer is a reporter. His job is to give you a fair account of the book and his reaction to it. The reviews I like least are those that immediately get down to demonstrating how much the reviewer knows — I want him to tell me what he knows about this new book that he's read — and those that are all about the reviewer's feelings. Provide an accurate and precise account of your reading experience, and I'll know how you felt.