What Jenny D said. It strikes me as anti-intellectual to waste time in a review bemoaning the length of a book (and in this case, it isn’t even the book being reviewed), and it reveals just how much of a mousy barnacle Allan Sloan is, who may very well be perfectly fit to report on business but is wholly incompetent to publish work in a book review section.
The other asinine statement from Sloan: “As with the Bible or Moby-Dick, you don’t have to be familiar with the entire work in order to grasp its essence.” What next from Tanenhaus? Championing SparkNotes over the text itself?
Apologists can defend Tanenhaus for his Whittaker Chambers biography all they want, but this kind of recidivist attitude has no place in a weekly book review section.
Absolutely no brownies for Tanenhaus. In fact, he should be baking us some.
As for the drive-by assault on Anthony Burgess (which comes courtesy of Paul Gray), the only thing “comfortably ho-hum” here is the flagrant vacuity within Mr. Gray’s head. Gray’s noggin clearly hasn’t entertained a curiosity about literature in quite some time.