Monday, April 17, 2006

This review will ruin your life

Excuse me while I digress from the ever-fascinating topic of politics for a moment. As a major consumer of literary fiction, I rely on the NY Times, and often reviewer Michiko Kakutani, for guidance.

And as the author of a political biography, I aspired to a Times review, which never happened.

A.M. Homes got her review last Friday, but probably wishes she hadn't. Kakutani begins:
A. M. Homes's dreadful new novel, "This Book Will Save Your Life," reads like a cartoon illustration for a seminar on men and middle age — a pastiche of all that is hokey, hackneyed and New Agey in Robert Bly's "Iron John" and Gail Sheehy's "Understanding Men's Passages."
Pretty tough stuff. But there's more, nearer the end of the review:
To begin with, the novel is written in flat, listless prose that makes everything the characters say sound like an unalloyed cliché. In fact, many of these people's remarks are so ridiculously platitudinous that it's hard to know whether Ms. Homes is trying to write parody or whether she has simply watched too many bad, made-for-TV movies and self-help talk shows.
The middle of the review isn't so hot, either.

I understand that criticism should serve up the bad with the good, but you have to wonder: If this novel was that bad, perhaps the precious review space could have been better spent in telling Times readers about a book they might want to read.

You also have to wonder whether A. M. Homes will ever show her face in public again. I feel sorry for her -- but not sorry enough to buy or read the book.


Post a Comment

<< Home