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Thread: Scathing Literary Criticism

  1. #1
    Registered User Jacek Pudlo's Avatar
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    Scathing Literary Criticism

    In order of appearance.

    1) "Mr. Walt Whitman" Henry James's review of Walt Whitman's Drum-Taps (1865).

    2) "By Cozzens Possessed" Dwight Macdonald's review of James Gould Cozzens's By Love Possessed (1957).

    3) "Awriiiighhhhhhhht!" John Updike's review of Tom Wolfe's A Man in Full (1998).

    4) "The Moody Blues" Dale Peck's review of Rick Moody's The Black Veil: A Memoir With Digressions (2002).

    5) "Diary" Laura Miller's review of Chuck Palahniuk's Diary (2003).

    Any suggestions to extend this list? I'm looking for scathiness and eloquence, not necessarily insight. James was obviously (and embarrassingly) wrong, while Peck and Miller chose easy targets, but they are all entertaining.
    Last edited by Jacek Pudlo; 03-07-2017 at 07:22 AM.

  2. #2
    Card-carrying Medievalist Lokasenna's Avatar
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    Although it is sadly now no longer awarded, I used to enjoy the Omnivore's Hatchet Job of the Year Award - awarded to the most scathing published book review of the year. The last winner was the late and much missed Adrian Gill for his masterful takedown of Morrissey's autobiography in 2014; the 2013 winner, Camilla Long on Rachel Cusk, is also well worth a read.

    You can find them all here: http://www.theomnivore.com/hatchetjoboftheyear/. Click on 'previous years' to read through them.
    "I should only believe in a God that would know how to dance. And when I saw my devil, I found him serious, thorough, profound, solemn: he was the spirit of gravity- through him all things fall. Not by wrath, but by laughter, do we slay. Come, let us slay the spirit of gravity!" - Nietzsche

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lokasenna View Post
    The last winner was the late and much missed Adrian Gill for his masterful takedown of Morrissey's autobiography in 2014.
    God, yes, that is hilarious (but not as hilarious as the actual biography!!)

  4. #4
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    Good scathing criticism is fun, especially of the pompous and feted. Mark Twain on the writer of Last of the Mohicans is enjoyable. Gore Vidal had a sharp knife too.

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