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 clich├ęs 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

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