Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism. Published by Cow Eye Press
Critical Essays, Reviews
Literature, Literary History, Literary Study

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mitch Hampton

One of the persistent problems is the refusal of a distinction between journalism and criticism. Henry James once remarked that criticism is a harder art form than fiction. It is a difficult terrain, criticism, and all those plot summaries and cutesy phrases, of which Denby himself is guilty do not understanding, awareness, and esthetic appreciation make.

bianca steele

Of the authors and titles you name, my local public library -- in a very large and very diverse "town" -- will have only Denby's. Thus, I think his book deserves closer examination.

BTW, the passage you quote about people who "live in the media" should probably be read in the context of where Denby says, in his book about revisiting the Columbia Core Curriculum, that at one point in his life he was not sure whether Michelle Pfeiffer was or was not in the room with him.

Ted Burke

Denby is basically right on the idea that snark, which is a form of rudeness that rivals sarcasm as wit's poorest cousin, has gotten beyond the reasonable application. Where once a snide remark might have been an expression of the vitality of Democratic expression with tyrannical bounds has now become the entire discourse in much too much of the new media. Internet wise, it is often difficult or impossible to have serious exchange (or not so serious) on what concerns or interests you on the forums and in the blogosphere--movies, politics, music, economics--without the topic being trampled to death in the herd instinct to stampede an opposing view with bile. This threatens to make the Internet useless for things other than checking up on movie times. Denby does sound like he's fretting a bit much--his book is a pamphlet extended to book size, small as that book is, and the point is made over and over again. The point, though, is worth noting: the literature and discourse we study and hope to learn from had standards to be achieved. Until a consensus on standards can be applied to Internet writing in the near future, good writing and even genius might cease to be.

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