Posts Tagged ‘review’
Ombudsmandry Throughout the Ages
by Frank Knarf
St. Albans Press, 341 pp., $55.00
In Frank Knarf’s bracingly inconsequential book Ombudsmandry Throughout the Ages, within the span of 3 pages the author tells us everything we’d ever want to know about ombudsmen. How he manged to concoct another 338 pages on such an esoteric topic I’ll never know. This is not an overly long book. Crime and Punishment was a long book. This book makes eternity look like a coffee break. To read beyond page 10 is a crime. To read beyond page 20 is both a crime and punishment. At least the middle section has centerfolds of historic figures like Attila the Ombudsman, Vlad the Ompaler and Donny and Marie Ombuds. Ombudsmandry Throughout the Ages is a tough read. In controlled clinical trials, professional scholars have attempted to “binge-read” the book and in all cases have suffered spontaneous narcolepsy or herniated cerebrums. It simply can’t be read at a sitting and I’m at a loss as to why St. Albans Press decided to publish it instead of the more titillating Hunter-Douglass corporately-sponsored catalog titled 50 Shades of Shades. Read the rest of this entry »
That line is from the movie Jaws, where an incredulous Richard Dreyfus surveys the peculiar wreckage of a shattered boat and announces, “This was no boating accident.” And in a sense this could apply to Terry Castle’s review of Siri Hustvedt’s novel The Blazing World. That is, at first glance the decimated boat looks just like any other wreck, but upon closer inspection Dreyfus observes the imprints of shark teeth and the telltale splinters and concludes otherwise. Similarly, at first glance, Castle’s well formatted review looks just like any other review, but upon closer inspection, we see the imprints of snark teeth and the telltale heart of the reviewer and I conclude: “This is no book review.” It’s something much more interesting than that and I was on to it early – I could smell the blood in the water.
As a dilettante of the second order, I occasionally glance at The New York Review of Books just to see how the other half lives. Alright, just to see how the other .00000000025% live. Except for Presidents giving a State of the Union Address, no one reads any more. Instead they troll for satisfying videos of some do-gooder giving a homeless guy $100 or an abandoned kitten being breast fed by a honey badger. I know I do. And I get it. Reading takes time and application. It’s proactive, but it is ultimately more rewarding and nourishing than idly surfing some video screen seeking temporary fulfillment. Well that’s as preachy as I’ll get because Wimp.com just posted a video of a Dolphin making oatmeal. That Dolphin happened to be former Miami Dolphin fullback Larry Csonka.
The NY Review of Books is bone dry and devoid of juicy gossip. If it were any drier it would spontaneously combust. It’s a narrow publication appealing to people who sometimes equate intellectual heft with spiritual awareness. The NY Review of Books is replete with bravura verbal muscularity and apposite aphorisms, soft as church music. However as comprehensive as it may be, the following words or ideas seem to creep into about half the articles or reviews. For example I’ve detected these recurring themes or phrases throughout the NY Review of Books:
- Sylvia Plath’s suicide changed nothing. She was still unhappy.
- So that was it. Jane immersed herself in English romantic poets as a means of coping with her intractable psoriasis.
- Harold’s homosexuality was known only to his wife, Ralph.
- All we had were parsnips. Fortunately all we wanted were parsnips.
- the Zionist experience of Jewish Semites
- the Jewish experience of Semitic Zionists
- the Semitic experience of Zionist Jews
- the influence of chivalric modalities in 12th century Hohoenzollern
- Marcel Proust would often mispronounce his name as “Proust.” Knowing that if anyone were to write about the event, no one would be able to know how Proust pronounced “Proust” in the first place.