Sunday, September 28, 2008

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

John Timpane on Thomas Friedman:
How the green path can lead to a stronger, wealthier nation

Susan Balee on Marilynne Robinson: Fine writing can't disguise the dullness.

Caroline Berson on Alafair Burke: Female detective back on the case.

Henry Gee on Stuart Kauffman: Hail, ceaseless complexity.


  1. True, "[f]ine writing can't disguise the dullness" but, fine writing can more than compensate for the dud-thudliness of not-so-fine writing (as Susan B. demonstrates so generously in her review of Marilynne R.'s latest).

    It is said that glow-jobs are much easier to write than no-go-jobs; and, I'm inclined to agree with that notion.

    I wonder, idly, how much wrestling with the angel occurred in writing that review, partially because I've spent the last several days wrestling with another "brand" author's lousy book (with thanks to Dave Lull who helped immeasurably). Fortunately and finally, the editor agreed with me and pronounced the review DOA.

    (Also, the jury's still out on whether it's easier to write a good review or its opposite.)

    Kudos, Susan, on a gentle and expansively enlightening contribution to the book of "what exemplary literary journalism can and should be," the book someone (not me) might write with a view towards retaining both integrity and honour (on the parts of the art, author, and assessor).

    Wonder who could write such a tome. Nobody I know is far enough removed from the lit-scene to keep their hands clean (myself inclus). Terry Eagleton, mebbe; but, five-will-get-you tendentious, a certain yappy snappy crappy Brit of the sellevating self-adorating persuasion would literally leap at the chance :).

  2. Anonymous9:10 AM

    Thank you, Judith, that is very kind of you. I would never write a negative review of a new or little known writer -- wouldn't want to kill their careers, and it's too easy to shoot fish in a barrel -- but Robinson is big enough to take it. Besides, I'm sure she knows. There was no doubt a reason why it took her twenty years to write a novel after "Housekeeping" and only a couple to follow up "Gilead."