February 14, 2011



Did he provoke a similar brouhaha about 10 years ago with his review of Rick Moody's "Demonology"? Or was it The Purple Veil? I forget. Anyway, after that he published a collection of his reviews, and in the introduction to that, he promised to stop writing negative reviews at all. Guess someone fell off the wagon.


Not really interested in a TV review, no matter how good or bad. Maybe that makes me myopic, but hey, I'm a writer, a reader, not a viewer.


Calling Mendelsohn NYRB's "lead literary critic" is ludicrous and meaningless. Over the years he has reviewed a handful of contemporary novels at NYRB, but is far more likely to review a film, opera or theater production. That lazy and overblown characterization would in itself be enough to set off alarm bells about Peck's piece.


Yes, Niall, you are correct. The post headline is a direct reference to the Moody review and he did, indeed, foreswear negative reviews. Though I'm sure he'd say this does not constitute a review proper; merely the ritual flinging of feces that he's made his trademark ...


Peck is much better in his positive reviews (his recent assessment of Thomas Bernhard in the Sunday Times Book Review was very well written and respectful). His negative reviews remind me of Donald Duck, just sputtering all over himself in aggrieved frustration.


When it comes to blowhards like Peck and Mendelsohn, whose pompous criticism and rebuttals leads to 3rd parties rebutting the rebuttals which leads to commenters commenting on the rebuttal of the rebuttal....my gosh, soon enough the subject art is so distorted so mangled beyond recognition, the enjoyment so far removed and forgotten, I find myself, in completely inappropriate contexts, channeling Oyundary Tsagaan: "I simply want to wander through the poem, which I now beg to come to me."


I'm sorry, but B.R. Myers is clearly an even more idiotic and pointless critic. Peck is up there though.


I think Myers is a valuable dissenter and he most certainly has a point, L. his point - and I often find myself agreeing - is that writers are getting sloppy and pretentiously "literary." Read something like Tree of Smoke after reading Myers' review, along with all the knee-jerk positive reviews that came out at the time: see if Myers' criticisms don't at least stick with you as you read. He may be more curmudgeonly than he has to be (a function, probably, of feeling like he's in a shrinking minority), but I'm thankful for his antagonistic counterpoint.

P.T. Smith


His Bernhard review was a lazy mess too, focused on being clever and privileged, instead of looking at what Bernhard's work was, or god forbid, actually reviewing the books he was supposedly reviewing.

It's me—the worst critic of my generation!

Wow, so now we can't even use the word postmodern, huh? Maybe we just shouldn't talk about anything that happened between, what, 1940 and, um, now?

Not really sure why you're asking me to explain what the UNMENTIONABLE savvy audience is, though, since, you know, you actually quoted it. It's bad enough you want pablum. Do you want someone to spoonfeed you too?


I read Mendelsohn's piece with a Hallelujah (I feel similarly about Mad Men) and found the piece so impresive that I ended up buying a book of the man's criticism that day.

I'm not sure everything Mendelsohn said in the piece was right (is the acting on the show so very bad?), but I think Peck is wrong to say Mendelsohn's point of reference is 50s-70s tv (by which he implies Mendelsohn is square and out of date). Mendelsohn clearly supports the conventional wisdom that we have a golden age of tv going on right now.

I've been there - being a fan, wanting to lash back at a critic. But Mendelsohn's piece is measured and (what impressed me most) left me feeling like I understood 'good writing' better. It was exhilarating.

fire blanket

Very well written and explained, still feels like like we are attacking him for no real reason.

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