This blog is basically about how good books are nice and bad books are the pits. And then I get grumpy.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Literary Pet Peeves

Book critics with attitude.

You know the type....They're more interested in turning a phrase, ultimately overwrought and grating, than in helping to guide anyone in their book-buying efforts. 'LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!' they seem to yell. Aren't I clever? As a matter of fact, I'm so clever that I'm going to rate this book a D- and show you how fancy I can write.' Do I sound like a writer scorned?

Actually, it's not all critics with attitude that bother me, just some. And, honestly, can't you say the same? It's like when you read a magazine profile of a celebrity and come away feeling that you know more about the psychology (and mental word count) of the journalist who wrote it than the famous person whose pics are splashed all over the pages.

Anyway, with all that said, I'd like also to say that some critics are quite good at what they do. My beef is with the few (but loud) who use their bully-pulpit to nauseate the rest of us readers.

So, please, if you're a book critic (competent or with attitude), keep reading. Let me show you how fancy I can write.

Self-infatuated writing by authors who've spent too much time inhaling dust in the farther reaches of the library instead of reading in the fresh air where they should.

I was once perusing a piece of literary criticism. I think the writer of that piece got a little carried away with himself. "In embryo," one phrase was just too cute. In embryo, you say? That's right.

Reader, I laughed at it.

Apparently, 'in sum' was too often used, 'in a nutshell' too casual, and 'in short' too mundane. So the writer either sat there scratching his head, tearing at his thoughts trying to find some unusual way to express himself or he spends far too much touchy, feely time with that inner child everyone talks about.

Perhaps we should send him some body-building magazines to toughen him up a bit....

Bloggers who can't resist the temptation to write fancy and read in dusty, remote library rooms.

What? You think I don't know I'm one of them? Take a look at my review of Alexandra Potter's Me and Mr Darcy from last year. Tragic. Did I jump over the edge of the QE2 with that one or what? I was kinda harsh. And way too cutesy.

Hopefully, other critics are kinder than I am.

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