“Unreadable” is a Code Word for Lazy

David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas has been called “even better than the best sex that you could possibly have” by Time Out, “a novel that will take over your life and prepare you to stalk Mitchell” by the Times Literary Supplement, and “tastier than all the food I ate during my formative years” by the Spectator. But it won’t be getting coverage from the Telegraph. Harry Mount, a critic who has actually been paid to review every Dick & Jane book ever published and the author of a 800-page piece of literary criticism entitled The Deep, Deep World of Paddington Bear, has declared Cloud Atlas “unreadable.”

Mount’s impatience recalls Jack Green’s polemic, Fire the Bastards!, which took umbrage over similar boasts made by critics who dealt with William Gaddis’s The Recognitions in 1955. Needless to say, if newspapers can find the time to cover Rising Up and Rising Down, then they should provide the same circumspect coverage to “difficult” books. To cop out with the “unreadable” excuse is a bit like damning The Passion of the Christ without having seen it. And besides, some books take a little longer to read. The real question here is whether Mount’s ever heard about this nifty concept called note taking. (via Literary Saloon)

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