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Monday, November 02, 2009

in between the sheets

an unfortunate reading of in between the sheets by Ian McEwan.

There's a point, I guess, that writers reach where whatever they cough into a hankie is taken as green gold. Do we believe reviewers are goggle eyed over fame or do we believe they're a breed of mucus-lickers? Oh but wait, a careful reading of the review blurbs shows no mention of THIS book. Of course not because four of the seven stories rise to mundane. The remaining three are way undercooked. One of the four could be three pages but it runs on for twenty like a hideous shaggy dog story. I'm guessing the author doesn't like to do much revision, but being another codified brit badboy and probably self-canonized genius, I suppose he doesn't feel the need. Final rating: beckoning beds sometimes contain bugs. Back away.

On a positive note -- If you like theory like I do, try out this: The Poetics of Prose $4.48 used at Amazon. Tzvetan Todorov is one of the major theorists along with Shklovsky and he's worth every penny of that four forty eight. He writes, "Yet like every science, linguistics often proceeds by reduction and simplification of its object in order to manipulate it more readily..." Todorov takes on formalism and its antecedents, he examines the topology of detective fiction as a means later to discuss genre and its problems more generally, he discusses the quest and secret of narrative and digs into the ghosts of Henry James in a way that makes me want to rush right out and get a collection. Perhaps his chapter "How to Read?" is less than satisfying in 2009 (the book is from 1977) but like most terrific literary theorists, there is much for adoration and speculation.