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

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Jimmy Beck

Bravo, gentlemen! Mark's NBA musings strike me as being right on the money (yes, I liked The Corrections--sorry, bro). And Dan, I share your questions about historical fiction--so much of it seems to me to be dreck, or at least, unnecessary. Reading Birnbaum's chat with TC Boyle, I began to reevaluate The Inner Circle. Not a great book, but certainly readable, competent and with a compelling character in Kinsey. But I wonder if I might not have gotten more from a Kinsey biography, i.e., was Boyle's invented story really necessary? Or is that just reflexive Tanenhaus-think on my part?


Great job, Mark and Dan. I quite like this format and look forward to reading what you'll have to say about the other books.


You both have very interesting perspectives on this book. TEV's analysis of the book's impact on the NBA was particularly interesting because, unfortunately, this doesn't seem like a choice that will further the cause of American fiction. And, yes, TEV, serious rap on the knuckles for the b-ripper comment...yes, you hinted it was coming, but we need to sit down, drink of choice in front of us, and discuss the structure of genre fiction. This story clearly misses by a mile. If one wants to compare it to a romance novel, at least note it's a bad romance novel. I thought the writing was clunky and the style interesting (yes, someone checked out the excerpt on Amazon), but not so much that I'll go out and buy the book.

And, that's probably the real shame of this whole thing, though I'm curious to read your thoughts about the other finalists.

Dan, your take on historical fiction is interesting. Yes, code for absolutely different than mine. While I love historical non-fiction, it doesn't really illuminate the customs and manners of a era the way fiction does. Sure, fiction exaggerates and takes liberties (the same could be said for non-fiction as well -- there's always bias), but good story and characterization bring events to life in a way that a recitation of facts and figures cannot. I'm curious if you've read Neal Stephenson's historical trilogy. He's playing the Pynchon camp, though not pushing the style as far as Pynchon.

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The Art of Disturbance--Available as Pdf and Kindle Ebook
Literary Pragmatism--Available as a Pdf