Saturday, January 18, 2014

Why most book reviewers are even dumber than sports radio callers

When hack reviewers aren't minimizing "genre" fiction (and genre film, for that matter), as "page-turners" or "popular fiction," they are reducing its contents to snarky captions; especially when a "literary" reviewer stoops to review it. A typical (and typically grating) example comes to us from professional hater Michiko Kakutani. Her review in the New York Times (the paper of record, if by record you mean as obsolete as vinyl) of Scott Smith's horror novel The Ruins carries this precious title: "A Mexican Vacation, Interrupted by Killer Plants".

I'm sure Ms. Kakutani was very proud of herself for tweeing off on Mr. Smith's work (strange she doesn’t apply her sublime talent to creating a stack of her own novels). I wonder if she and the rest of the sneering mannequin community realize you can mock classic fiction in exactly the same way:

Hamlet: Family Feud involving ghosts and Scandinavians.

Moby-Dick: Sailor who doesn't suffer fools gladly chases large whale.

Pride and Prejudice: Upper class chick hates bad boy before liking him.

Everything in fiction sounds silly if you nanosize it. Metaphors and allegories become full blown laugh riots if you cut them to the bone. Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea (which helped him win the Nobel) becomes a tale of a big one that got away; one so big it is Christ-like.

If your friend told you his nightcrawlers helped him catch a dead savior, chances are you’d be choking on laughter rather than tears. But in the context of Hemingway’s novel, this normally tedious imagery becomes extremely powerful.

This is why I (and the rest of mankind) give every Kakutani review the same headline: "Hack reviewer writes hack reviews valued only by other hack reviewers."

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