Saturday, October 28, 2006
lazy, lazy lazy
It's one thing to give a book an unflattering review, it's another to opt for a lazy drubbing and leave a stated criticism entirely undressed.
Bob Armstrong's review in What's On Winnipeg is neither here or there on Craig Davidson's first novel, The Fighter, until this:
"And while he's ingenious and cruelly creative in dreaming up different kinds of mayhem, he's prone to clichés and sloppy thinking when he tries to connect his violence to the big picture.
To be fair, the secondary character, Rob Tully, and his family, are sketched out with a surprising tenderness and become three-dimensional characters, but Davidson's novel is ultimately about the other fighter, spoiled rich kid Paul Harris."
The novel excels as a study of character. I'm not sure what "big picture" Armstrong was talking about as he never returned to it. If the characters "are sketched out with a surprising tenderness" then Davidson has done his job. The book is a harrowing look at the world of bare-knuckle boxing and he's got his main characters right. That makes for a damn fine first novel.
As for Armstrong's silliness regarding the thrust of The Fighter:
"Forget the message. The message is that Craig Davidson thinks violence is cool" well that's the capper to an amateur hour review. Armstrong is ascribing a fetishistic intent on what is just descriptive writing.
As a sidebar, I corrected the typo in the above quote. It hardly bears mentioning, except that
Armstrong saw fit to rag on a few minor line edit oversights.
Again, nothing wrong with an unflattering review if it's backed up. This wasn't.
I can take or leave Chuck Palahniuk, but if the remarkable Thom Jones blurbed my book, I wouldn't care what a third tier reviewer said.
Posted by Dave