Posts Tagged ‘book reviews’


Worst Book of the Decade? Already?

April 19, 2010

Ed Champion on Yann MartelWow. Talk about bad reviews. Edward Champion has crowned Booker Prize-winner Yann Martel’s latest novel, Beatrice and Virgil, the Worst Book of the Decade. Which, of course, is impressive, since the decade is all of three and a half months old, with some hundred sixteen and change to go.

It’s a little hard to explain how vicious this review is, except to say I might look for a copy at my local library because something allegedly this bad must be witnessed.

There comes a rare time — perhaps once every ten or fifteen years — when you read a book with such dreadful syntax, without even a fiber of merit, so libertine in the manner it insults the audience, and so producing the literary equivalent to being completely submerged into a vat of shit, that the reader, having embarked on the fetid journey, begins to pine for a brutal throng of vigilantes to chop off the author’s hands and prevent the hopeless hack from ever holding a pen or setting foot near a laptop again.

I mean, come on. Isn’t that something of an invitation? Like when I was a kid, and heard about the Faces of Death videos. And then one day, as an adult in the age of the internet, I ventured out onto the information superhighway, watched a couple of scenes of human life evacuating bodies, held myself satisfied, and wished I had never seen such horrible things.

You know. Fascination with disaster. Rubbernecking. Slowing down on the highway to look for blood or body parts.

Judging by the examples Champion includes, one might wonder if maybe Martel is trying to prove some obscure point, and the reviewer simply missed it. Because the alternative is, well, that the book really is just that bad. As in, “I’d rather be in the Kilgore Trout Reading Club” kind of bad.



What was the last book you loved?

November 11, 2009

Here’s an interesting notion: A book review contest.

Well, it’s not much of a contest, but:

We’d like to know the last book you loved. Send us a writeup of the last book you truly loved, along with a short bio. We’ll publish our favorites in The Rumpus blog. No length requirements.

And no deadline, either. At least, none that I can see in the appeal to readers from Stephen Elliott.

Contact information available through that last link. Dust off your favorites. I have no guesses on the deadline; Elliott ran one of these last month, too.

Maybe in the long run we can organize some SCWC reviews penned by any of our unconventional conventionists. No promises yet; I’ll have to figure out how to work that. In the meantime, if your review of the last book you loved makes The Rumpus, let us know.



‘Tis the season … to be morbid?

December 9, 2008

Let us be morbid, at least in part because it is fun to do so. And, hey, we’ll only pause to reflect on three consecutive two-letter words that contain the letter “o” because, well, I like to be annoying that way. But, to the point at hand ….

Let us begin by wishing a happy birthday to a dead man. December 9, 1608: the birth of John Milton.
Read the rest of this entry ?


Not exactly the news

December 8, 2008

Around the web:



Milne on the art of review

January 19, 2008

The Los Angeles Times on Friday brought us a rehash of a thoroughly charming 1921 essay by none other than A. A. Milne, on “The Perils of Reviewing“.

Of course in my review I said all the usual things. I said that Mr. Blank’s attitude to life was “subjective rather than objective” … and a little lower down that it was “objective rather than subjective.” I pointed out that in his treatment of the major theme he was a neo-romanticist, but I suggested that, on the other hand, he had nothing to learn from the Russians — or the Russians had nothing to learn from him: I forget which. And finally I said (and this is the cause of the whole trouble) that Antoine Vaurelle’s world-famous classic — and I looked it up in the encyclopedia — world-renowned classic, “Je Comprends Tout,” had been not without its influence on Mr. Blank. It was a good review, and the editor was pleased about it.

A few days later Mr. Blank wrote to say that, curiously enough, he had never read “Je Comprends Tout.” It didn’t seem to me very curious, because I had never read it either, but I thought it rather odd of him to confess as much to a stranger. The only book of Vaurelle’s which I had read was “Consolatrice,” in an English translation. However, one doesn’t say these things in a review.

One would think that should be among the reviewer’s bigger problems. You know. You’d think, wouldn’t you?

Maybe I’m naive.