Erica Wagner Gets an F (And Tanenhaus Too!)

Erica Wagner, whose first name is Erica and whose last name is Wagner, displays needless padding in the third paragraph, which comes before the fourth and after the second, in her review of Michael Ondaatje’s Divisadero in today’s issue of the New York Times Book Review. It would be disingenuous for me to say that these sentences are loosely braided together like slack rope, for they are about as extraneous as a congealed fatty bubble that a cook not only neglected to trim from a porterhouse steak, but cooked and served to a devoted carnivore. How did such a paragraph, which appears inspired by Bart Simpson offering an impromptu book report to Ms. Krabappel, make it through the editing stage?


  1. Who appointed you the knuckle-rappin’ fanny spanking high priest of literary style when it comes to the review? I used to read this site because it was funny, and amusingly odd, but now all you do is stalk people — and yes, if John Freeman was a woman you’d have a restraining order by now — and Monday morning quarterback everyone else’s reviews. Go read a book for once Ed instead of trying to micro-manage reviews you couldn’t write if given a year to do it.

  2. Um, Lena, notwithstanding your important musings on Ed’s self-anointing of literary style, and his dual occupation of stalker/quarterback (quarterstalk? stalkback?), I take it you agree that it was a bad paragraph? E pur si muove…or in the vernacular, the paragraph is still a certain kind of movement.

  3. I’m late to the party, but holy WOW that graf is awful. I’m reminded of the little neighbor boy who asked Annie Dillard, as she thought, admiringly, “Did you write that essay?” but then continued, “…or did you TYPE it?” Ms. Wagner here contributed some fine typing. Where in the heck were her editors?

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