Recent reviews of reviews
December 30, 2018 4:49 PM   Subscribe

Aaron Bady (Popula, 12/20/2018), "Milkman: I Have Not Finished This Very Good Novel (Though I Probably Will)": "Why would I get mad at [Dwight Garner] for the structural impossibility of the genre he's paid to write in?" Nicola Griffith (, 4/2/2018), "How Ableism Affects a Book Review": "So Lucky's first review ... epitomises the bias faced by novels about disabled characters written by disabled authors and it's time this bias was called out." Mark Brown (The Guardian, 10/7/2018), "Kate Atkinson calls authors reviewing their peers a 'callous art'": "Atkinson called Dee's review bizarre. 'He was making a whole article out of me not being Rachel Cusk.'"

Incidentally, Milkman has won the Booker Prize. Both Milkman and So Lucky are on the Tournament of Books shortlist this year (previously).

And in a recent series of tweets about appreciating classics, John Scalzi (@scalzi, 12/24/2018) arrived at a point that perhaps intersects with Bady's: "Some things will only speak to you at a specific moment in your life and/or only once."
posted by Wobbuffet (8 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
'He was making a whole article out of me not being Rachel Cusk.'"

Dawn Powell once wrote in a journal entry that someone's criticism came to "If I borrowed your car for the weekend I'd drive to go visit my parents, not yours"
posted by thelonius at 5:32 PM on December 30, 2018 [9 favorites]

Regarding Griffith's response to that review, yeah. What steaming turd of an "inspiration porn" review.

Griffith posted the Publisher's Weekly review she's responding to as a screen grab, so here's the actual text if you're using a screen reader.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:47 PM on December 30, 2018 [3 favorites]

I read the first couple of sections of that first review, and that’s probably all I will read, and life is short, and the reviewer talking about the reviewer is not what a review is for, goddamit, even Quentin Crisp’s movie reviews discussed the movie more than they discussed him, but, heavens, this is a Fallen World, stained with Murder and Corruption.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:05 PM on December 30, 2018 [4 favorites]

I'm not unsympathetic to the Bady piece, but this...
has this whole thing about how the reviews in the NYT book review have always been filler, vehicles to sell the splashy book ads, how “everyone” has always known they’re garbage, etc.
My friend, do I have some bad news about publications in general for you.
posted by praemunire at 8:00 PM on December 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

That Milkman review is indeed a terrible piece of writing.

Not only did Milkman win the Booker but the book has sold out in many bookshops with people, like me, being riveted by the pacing and the language and the resonance.

It is a true popular book. It reminds us of a world that we like to think we have outgrown but one we keep sneaking glances back to, like pulling back a plaster over a scab.
posted by fallingbadgers at 8:22 PM on December 30, 2018 [3 favorites]

As someone with a degree in English lit and what I think is a pretty good handle on what constitutes literary criticism, and as someone who is also an NYT subscriber, I feel like Dwight Garner's reviews of books by women are a cesspool of heterosexual male grossness. When he likes a book by a woman, it's no less gross. It's about the degree to which he brings in the personal about the author, to an extent he doesn't do it with male authors. Trawl through his archives and see for yourself. His review of Nine Pints has some shit going on in it that made me stop reading it part way through when it came out.

Look, he's entitled to despise Milkman as a book, but that review is a balls-out ad hominem attack on the author who's done nothing wrong to him, or to anyone else AFAIK.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:33 PM on December 30, 2018 [10 favorites]

Balls out ad feminem attack.
posted by medusa at 4:58 AM on December 31, 2018 [2 favorites]

Well now I know there's a new Nicola Griffith book out so I'm happy (but I'm not slogging through that awful-sounding review).
posted by Gin and Broadband at 6:10 AM on December 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

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