Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The wedge


I like the British genre of the review which, while otherwise favorable, enumerates a paragraph or two of errors in the penultimate paragraph:

Murdoch’s youthful mind is as sharp and polished as a sword, but Conradi’s editing is not. Random footnotes pop up like glove puppets interrupting a soliloquy, to explain that “Je t’aime” means “I love you” and that Baudelaire is a French poet. There is no index, there are typos galore and a footnote that refers to the missing last page of Thompson’s final letter to Murdoch is itself tantalisingly unfinished — “how Frank signed off his last letter we will probably never”.

—Jenny D, Light Reading


This is the place in a review where critics tend to wedge in the sentence that says, in so many words, “This isn’t a perfect book.” And “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” surely isn’t. But there isn’t much about it I’d want to change. It has brains and pacing and nerve and heart, and it is uncommonly endearing. You might put it down only to wipe off the sweat.—last paragraph of Dwight Garner's NYT review of Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

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