A Book Review


I wrote a critical review on goodreads today. It felt like Slicer at her meanest. I wonder why I felt the need to say anything at all if I couldn’t say something nice? Why so mad at a young man/author just doing what he does?

I guess it’s the adulation of the critics that really makes me mad. Jeez — are those people crazy? This “novel” seems like self-evident bullshit looking in the mirror.

But truthfully, I’m doing in my review, only partially ironically, the exact same thing the young man is doing in his book — trying to sound smart. Slicer can be pretty good at that. It’s smarter to be pleasant, according to Elwood P. Dowd. See, I can drop oblique literary references too. Maybe I’m just too old to understand this book’s context, and that’s why I found it so annoying. Maybe I can get one of my children to read it — see what they think. Maybe I’m secretly annoyed at something else entirely, and Ben Lerner is the scapegoat. No doubt I’m kicking the dog.

The way he uses the word “dissect” (like, maybe 6 times) extrapolates a unique meaning from a medical condition known as Marfan, which can lead to spontaneous “aortic dissection.” I had to look up “proprioceptive” and “coeval,” both of which he drops more than once, and had to hit the dictionary for many other of Lerner’s instances of choosing fancy vocabulary over clear speech, some of which, like “frisson,” also used more than once, weren’t even in my 1970s red hardbound edition of American Heritage. Is he making fun of himself? Maybe I missed the joke.

I think I’ll read Tom Sawyer next. Children’s literature seems wiser and more wonderful in every way than most of what I’ve come across as an adult.

Here’s the actual review.

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