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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Reviewing Heller McAlpin's Book Review of 'Exley' in The San Francisco Chronicle: November 17, 2010

re: Heller McAlpin's book review of Brock Clarke's Elxey in the Wednesday, November 17th 2010 edition:

I hate this kind of book review. Plot summary does NOT equal a close reading. One would think this is a movie review, given its emphasis on the superficial. How is the symbolism? The prose? Is it funny, flat, or quirky?

What an incompetent review. Did you pay some professional paper writer to write it? Because that's what it looks like: undergraduate twaddle.

Example: If you are expecting the reader to know what 'metafictional pastiche' means, then such a reader will be interested in the WAYS it's a metafictional pastiche. By writing a review which vacillates between targeting an educated audience & a layperson, you fail to do both.

Also, you fall for the marketing ploy of this book & waste too much time glossing over Fred Exley... and then do a TERRIBLE job of summarizing him. Oh, and then the lit tropes, the lit tropes! 'Metafiction,' 'Murakami,' & an unforgivable non-sequitur in the 1st paragraph w/ "Fforde." Relevant HOW? You can't even engage the prose so you cite references.

You spend so much time defending Clarke's pedigree, one wonders if you are even CAPABLE of reading. I personally doubt you read the book. YOU are part of the poison that has destroyed mainstream 'high' literature and you treat craft as if it were a Google algorithm that measures quality by the number of times the content is cited--RATHER than the actual quality of the content.

And after reading reviews for this book all over the lit-mag network (blog is a dirty word), I STILL have yet to see a review that actually engages the text; rather than the social context of the author. So in that regard, this book review is a failure. If you were in my class, I'd flunk you. Dismiss this as jealousy, or a bad mood--you KNOW I'm correct.


ps: Chron, I challenge you to hire someone who actually knows how to read AND write. My crit of McAlpin's incompetent review is better written AND I did it in minutes.

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