Book critics are rated at Time Out. I’ll go further than my colleague Scott Esposito and suggest that any list which seriously considers Michiko Kakutani’s venomous tirades and Janet Maslin’s “Well, good golly, I read a book this summer!” reviews is worthless. And where, pray tell, is James Wood?
Is there any real reason to revisit Home Alone? Bad enough that this treacly nonsense launched the career of Macaulay Culkin and gave that sentimental hack Chris Columbus a second wind, steering him into the wholesale corruption of Harry Potter. But Home Alone also signified screenwriter John Hughes’ total capitulation into commercial family film fare of the lowest common denominator. Look at the list of films Hughes wrote afterHome Alone: Beethoven (under a pseudonym), Dennis the Menace, Baby’s Day Out, and remakes of Miracle on 34th Street, 101 Dalmatians and Flubber. All of these scripts came from a man who desired a summer retreat at Nassau more than a desire to entertain. Imagine a parallel universe in which John Hughes continued writing comedies along the lines of Planes, Trains & Automobiles and the underrated She’s Having a Baby, not letting the lackluster reception of She’s Having a Baby get in the way. Hughes, dare I say it, could have been a fiercely independent populist. But he opted out. And it’s no surprise that Kevin Smith filled in the gap.
In a perfect universe, Jonathan Ames, George Saunders, and Lydia Millet would be writing episodes for a groundbreaking Comedy Central series, drawing larger audiences to their often hilarious bodies of work. But since we live in a cruel and unfair universe where the spoils often go to no-talent, misogynist thugs, it is, of course, Tucker Max who yields the glory. (via Slushpile)
Overrated and underrated books of the year. Which brings up another point. There was considerable excitement about David Mitchell’s Black Swan Green early this year, but it appears that the end-of-the-year listmakers have forgotten about it. What happened? Or are the critics’ memories too fickle? The only lists I’ve seen BSG on are Mr. Sarvas’ and Mr. Orthofer’s.