I Hate This Article So Much: or Lev Grossman oils the grinding machinery

Scott Esposito tossed this softball up at Conversational Reading earlier and I feel compelled to join him in giving it a Baseball Furies swing because, wow, this is dumb!

First of all, this reads like a teenager’s Facebook post/phone conversation transcribed to make a “literary” article, describing a novel: “ … by a writer who is generally described as Great, but who I’ve always personally felt is Pretty Good When He’s Really On His Game, Which Was Like For One Book, But Generally Speaking He’s Really Not That Good At All. Like For Example Right Now.”

Like, great . . Or maybe Not. This unintentional indictment of the book biz – not wanting to write negative reviews and meet nice writers at parties, blah, blah, is bad enough. When he finally gets revved up enough to spit out the name of a book he hates, it’s a novel by . . . John Steinbeck . . from 1936 (incidentally also dealing with a party).

It gets worse. In fact, there is hardly a sentence in the article that isn’t stupid, so much so that now I think the whole thing was meant as a joke (ha ha).

With all the justifiable laments about disappearing book coverage it is disheartening to think that someone is getting paid to write criticism like this, even if it’s an obvious parody (ha):

“I’m telling you, this book: it’s like the sentences are dead tennis balls, no air in them, no fuzz on them, coming at me across the net with no spin on them at all. No verbal energy, no humor, barely even the occasional stab at a mot juste.”

Joke or not though, his whole faux despairing rant about how the literary publicity machine will go on and none of it matters anyway is nauseating, because he knows it suits him and the lame novelists a magazine like this reviews just fine – which really is a cause for despair.

Photo – by Linda Spashett/wikimedia

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Categories: Literary Controversy

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3 Comments on “I Hate This Article So Much: or Lev Grossman oils the grinding machinery”

  1. JS
    28/07/2012 at 4:33 pm #

    Cucumber season I take it, that is, why would anyone care enough to write about this. It’s debatable who is more puerile: Lev Grossman or Conversational Reading. Call it a tie.

    • 28/07/2012 at 5:34 pm #

      Cucumber season it is, but I think he was absolutely right to call him out on it – as he does other lame, lazy critics when they deserve it. It’s depressing that the people who are paid the most to do things many others would love to do often suck – expected with movie directors and rock musicians but you would think book reviewers might be an exception. Still, it was Time Magazine, which I last actually read in a doctor’s waiting room in about 1978, so . .

      • JS
        30/07/2012 at 12:56 pm #

        I get it, though merit is in short supply all way around, whether among the “well-paid” or the labor-of-lovers like the one mentioned here and other such venues. It seems to me they are all in scratch each other’s back mode and the only difference is the level of remuneration, if any. So this sanctimoniousness is a bit laughable. At least there’s that.

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