The trouble with book reviewing

Ruth Franklin has a review of David Mitchell’s Black Swan Green in this week’s New Republic. She bemoans the trite superlatives that populate positive book reviews, praises Dale Peck, laments the decline of standards we have for great books, and bashes Heidi Julavits and the Believer’s anti-snark stance. She then goes on to laud Black Swan and Mitchell’s writing in a review that, except for its opening complaints about the state of book reviewing, is the exact sort of engaged, anti-snark essay that the Believer favors. In other words, it’s a good, well-written review. Perhaps, she should stick to reviewing books and stop trying to take down other book reviewers. I would also like to point out that suggesting that Dale Peck has high standards for fiction is a bit suspicious. Franklin would have been much better off citing James Wood. But of course, Peck is provocative, which she seems to think is better than simply appreciating good novels. I must admit that I have at least one thing in common with Franklin: I, like her, read and liked Black Swan Green.

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