1. Did you delete a mildly critical, also lame, comment posted last night by ‘Fran’? Is that ethical?

  2. B- or maybe C+ on this one. Using Ferris’ narrative device in the review is, as they say, too cute by half, and actively obscures meaning. I had to read it twice to even get that it was a generally negative review, mostly because it takes so much parsing to figure out the meaning behind each sentence.

    It’s also a cutesy trick that only has the potential to impress people who have already read the book, as opposed to who actually is the audience for book reviews, people who are thinking about reading the book. It moved Ed the writer into the foreground and the book under consideration to the back, another failure to understand audience and purpose. It’s what has made Michiko irrelevant as a critic, despite her lofty standing.

    There’s a fair bit of analysis which keeps this from a failing grade, but it has too much of the “this is the book he should have written” feel for my taste. Discuss the book that was written, not the one you want to write or wish the author would write.

    On further review, really a C at best.

    No offense.

  3. I thought this was your most rambunctious outing yet since I ended up reading and enjoying without comprehension the first time through at a loss for not reading the book but at net gain for reading your review. You jumped out of the ring and punched the peanut vendor a few times thrilling those already served, angering the others.

  4. I have to say I agree with both of the last comments—the piece was pretty incomprehensible and truly ineffectual criticism. You know, I’ve read this book, and Ferris does the “we” voice really well for about 400 pages—you couldn’t manage it for 1,000 words. And, sorry, but “eidolon”? I really liked that word when I was a 10-year-old girl with very romantic ideas about ghosts and fairytale castles. Close your thesaurus next time, friend.

  5. May, dear, you’re only halfway there. You’re not asking the right question. We’re not grading a paper for class, you know.
    The right question is this:
    What percentage of the Inquirer’s plummeting circulation– ordinary folks like nurses and bus drivers and businessmen– will make it past the first paragraph of that review?
    Given that context, can we give Mr. Ed’s review anything other than a failing grade?

  6. This King makes a fair point. I’m grading on a scale of the average reader of book reviews, not that average reader of a newspaper. Given the use of “inveigled” followed by the dropping of two names very few people will have heard of in the first paragraph, it may be less than 1% unless ?Joshua Ferris has a disproportionate number of friends and relatives in Philly.

    The question is, how many of those nurses, bus drivers and businessmen would’ve started reading the thing in the first place, and why? Perhaps the book review water is too poisoned already and they’re better off sticking with pieces like Ed that seek to engage the 1% to at least hold on to them.

  7. Imagine. Having to read a review twice! Or having to look a word or an author up! The horror! Why, it sounds like this charlatan is asking readers to use their brains! Yes, the time has come to put this reviewer out to pasture. Anything less than a dumbed down and humorless review is unacceptable.

  8. Being a skilled polemicist, Ed likes to wield the classic fallacy false choice, i.e., “Anything less than a dumbed down and humorless review is unacceptable.”

    Of course, we’re not in an either or situation and Ed obviously knows that. It isn’t clear to me if Ed’s pride is actually wounded so he’s lashing out, or if he actually, “hears” the criticism, which is legitimate and worthy of thought.

    Ed seems to say that he consciously writes his reviews to challenge the audience, to ask them to “use their brains.” I don’t think this is necessarily a bad choice or a wrong choice, and in some cases it’s obviously the right choice, but it in this case it does betray a lack of awareness of audience. If you asked the average newspaper editor if they’d like to run reviews that need to be read twice to be understood, they would probably say, “fuck no.”

    It’s just two different approaches, going to where the readers are, or, not caring and commanding they come to you. As a writer, Ed seems to rarely consider audience. He’s got his vision of how things should be, how people should think, even how they should behave and his M.O. over and over is to either get them to move them towards him, or, if they refuse to do so, dismiss them. It’s hard to fault Ed for being Ed.

  9. Oh, May, I absolutely love you. I am presently in the middle of a similar argument with Ed on my site. Although we have been discussing his faulty understanding of irony, your remarks regarding audience are also on the money. I have noticed, many times, Ed missing an author’s intent in what he reads. In addition, Ed often fails to clearly express his intent when he writes. Not thoroughly considering the audience might partially explain it.

  10. Ed has a closer mentality. He’s Goose Gossage. Goose didn’t throw changeups, he always brought his best stuff even against chumps. Ed can overpower the material he’s assigned to review and knock bus drivers on their ass.

  11. For what it’s worth, I have unbanned Fran, putting her on temporary probation. I should also note that I have pitched editors on many women writers, but the pitches they tend to accept pertain to male writers. I attempt to atone for this gender divide, a situation that is outside of my powers, by featuring women authors on the Bat Segundo Show. In fact, of the last batch of four, two podcasts were devoted to feminist authors. If you still believe me to be a sexist, or a man incapable of writing for an audience or lacking a faulty understanding of irony, well that’s your business. There are plenty of other reviewers and websites that fit these needs. Frankly, I could care less about catering to any of your individual needs. (And thank you, David Thayer, for getting it.)

  12. “And thank you, David Thayer, for getting it.”

    You’re right, marydell, Ed really doesn’t get irony.

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