Sunday, August 19, 2012

bad review

"Every mind lives or dies by its ideas; every book lives or dies by its language."

So this is the last sentence of the now almost famous bad-meanie review of Alix Somebody's new novel. I could only skim the review, saw he cared enough to name-drop half the canon, and I'm almost positive I'll never have time to read the book, but the sentence is rather compelling, and I like it and am almost left wishing it were true. But I'm also reminded of Philip K. Dick and other writers who very rarely crafted a beautiful sentence but had other things going for them that have kept them in print. One of my favorite creative-writing guides, title escapes me, at one point tries to give the languageless writer a boost by reminding us of how many famous writers didn't write such poetic prose and how some were paid by the word and not the pretty sentence. Dickens. Balzac. Yeah, I agree, it's wrong to name Hemingway here, but in 2012, Bukowski is as loved and in print as anyone from his generation. Some would say language was a strength of Kerouac's writing although most of these folks weren't critics. For The New Yorker, James Wood once wrote of Paul Auster, "Although there are things to admire in Auster’s fiction, the prose is never one of them."

No one path to literature, and at the end of the day, I suppose that this Alix Somebody or Nobody or Youtellme (and I'll admit I now remember her last name is Ohlin) has to be grateful for this Jerk Reviewer and the NYTimes just for running any review of her work. A lot of great books don't get close to being reviewed by such a major publication. And now I've been to the amazon page for the book, and it looks like The New Yorker and everyone else, customers and critics, loves the darn thing silly. My final impression is that the author will survive the scathing pen of Giraldi.

Fight for Your Long Day, Alix Ohlin and William Giraldi! And the rest of literature, too.

(I must confess that I liked the part of the review where he addresses the importance of a book's title.)

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