Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Obituary …

… Death of the hatchet job. (Hat tips. Dave Lull and Rus Bowden.)

A review I wrote many years ago of Susan Sontag's I, Etcetera was so harsh the editor at first hesitated to run it. It was later picked by some group as among the best reviews of the year. 
The problem with writing negative reviews is that you have to read an entire book you don't like. Now that I am old, I prefer to write about books that I do like.


  1. One of Guy Davenport's essays complained about the NY Times Book Review and NYRB encouraging gratuitous meanness. I could find the essay in ten minutes were I home, but I'm not. I suspect that it is in The Hunter Gracchus or Every Force Defines a Form.

    I suppose that one could excuse harsh reviews on the grounds of the irritation created by reading a bad book. Some in my neighborhood book club have a way of picking books that I would set down indifferently after five minutes of browsing in a bookstore, but that I come to dislike after reading the whole four hundred pages.