Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism. Published by Cow Eye Press

« Updike Reconsidered | Main | Literary Pedagogy »




And let's not forget their recent feature on short stories that vainly struggled to shoehorn the incredibly diverse crop of new short fiction into one very simple, very political framework: fear induced by 9/11.


Dan, I agree with a lot of what you say here. But take issue with the idea that just because Roth has publicly said that his book should not be read a certain way, the reviewer is then beholden to accept that. (Which is a position I extrapolate from the point "... in which Berman joined the long line of reviewers who are doing exactly what Roth has warned them not to do, which is to read the book as a thinly veiled allegory of current political events.")

I admire Roth tremendously but think it's dangerous to take even the theoretic stance that the author is somehow the ultimate instructor for his or her book. The book is the book — and a thoughtful critic should be able to make of it what he or she will, regardless of what the author dictates in interviews.

Dan Green


I'm generally very sympathetic to the view you're articulating, but in most cases what happens is a writer says X,Y, or Z, which is then used to reduce his/her work to some simple theme or message. In this case, Roth is asking that critics not reduce his novel to a simple theme but consider it as the complex work of fiction it is. In that context, I wish people would heed what Roth says.



Though I am not a regular reader of the NYRB, "self-important so-called pundits have an opportunity to self-display and in the process bore us to tears." is not something I have experienced. Granted I read it for Joan Didion and Daniel Mendelsohn and the occasional Robert Stone piece. Are you exaggerating to make a point?

And friends, the NYTBR horse is hamberger meat. Are you trying to turn it into puree? Can some one, anyone , tell me (other than Jimmy Beck who has openly confessed his masochism) why you'll just can' t move on? Elsewhere Edward Champion has rightly pointed out that Wash Post and SF Chronicle are doing good work.

Ringy dingy

Dan Green

I admittedly have a less happy opinion of NYRB than many others seem to have--although in the statement you quote I really had more in mind the sort of folks we can expect to see in future issues of NYTBR.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)