Monday, August 30, 2004

Maud's guests

Well, two complementary opinions about snark and fiction and reviewing at Maud Newton's blog. Is it just a coincidence that the names of the two authors rhyme? I agree with elements of Emma Garman's post (definitely there's a place for snarky humor in book reviews, esp. if it's making a serious point, and the blandness of the usual NYTBR is not to be believed--British-style reviewing definitely preferable). But I'm on the whole more in sympathy with Sean Carman's: surely the Julavits essay was "widely misunderstood" (I wish The Believer would reintroduce a word-length limit! When you write a long essay like that, it only increases the chance you'll say something that provokes outrage and wild disagreement), and also the use of Monica Ali and Stephen Elliott as examples of novelists that wouldn't deserve the take-down method of reviewing.

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