Monday, May 12, 2008

A Million Little Parodies

Can we declare a moratorium on book reviewers’ mimicking the style of the book they’re reviewing? Although I seem to recall a scathing and amusing Valley Girl-esque critique by Michiko Kakutani, Janet Maslin’s piece in the Times this morning is a slog to get through, with its choppy prose, missing punctuation, missing words, and sentence fragments. Oddly, her review is pretty much a rave, ending with “That’s how James Frey saved himself.” Yes, that James Frey, of A Million Little Pieces and shamed-by-Oprah-Winfrey fame, currently profiled in Vanity Fair’s June issue. Everybody loves a story of redemption (except for, in this case, maybe Oprah?), but next time perhaps Maslin can tell it in her own voice instead of trying to imitate the writing, especially if it’s good writing. I don’t have strong feelings about Frey one way or the other, but I do believe Maslin should have let Bright Shiny Morning have its day in the sun, unshadowed by this confusing, counterproductive pseudo-Freyness. —MLM

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