February 26, 2008



Isn't this in some ways just more hype? We think so highly of this book we'll prove to you how good it is.

I purposely did not read any reviews of this one until I had read it myself. I'm not a professional reviewer, but I read a lot and I like to think I know what works and this book just doesn't, at least for me. It doesn't, maybe it couldn't, live up to the hype.

Mr. Bock writes well and parts of his story are excellent, but he's trying to put eight pounds in a five pound sack. There's just too much in here for it to be really coherent.

"Mr. Bock must already working on the script for David Cronenberg," that's all I could think of the whole time I was reading. It's like a literary Grateful Dead jam, with solos that just go off on a tangent and shout outs to all those vampire junkies, wiccan punk girl, and adolescent nightcrawlers. Of course, I never got the Dead either.


Man, the first 30 pages are unspeakably dull. It's like a bad impression of Rick Moody who is trying to mimic Junot Diaz's latest (and excellent) novel. And Rick Moody already reads like a bad and cloying version of Delillo. There is not a single memorable image, line, idea, thus far. Yeesh.

Michael Czobit

It looks like it's a popular download. Bock's "Beautiful Children" receives great exposure and has the ability to crash websites.


I truly hope that this will be a growing publishing trend in general. I can't believe it's taken them so long...!


ugh...a slog. What ever happened to clean, spare prose that packs a punch? What's with all the telling and not showing? That's fiction 101 -- show, don't tell. And all bock does throughout is tell us how to feel and how the Lorraine or Lincoln or Bing feels about everything. There's nothing felt in this novel. Nothing is earned. this is what happens with the smart-set though (of which i'm not a member) -- they suck the life out of characters and stories and overwrite and show off and make 240 page stories into 440 page slogs.

Where is the Yates, the Banks, the Didion? The O'Hara and Carver? Did he read them? If he did, he clearly blew them off and we pay the price. Shit -- fiction can be wonderful. An experience. This novel was neither. What a sham.

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  • The Elegant Variation is "Fowler’s (1926, 1965) term for the inept writer’s overstrained efforts at freshness or vividness of expression. Prose guilty of elegant variation calls attention to itself and doesn’t permit its ideas to seem naturally clear. It typically seeks fancy new words for familiar things, and it scrambles for synonyms in order to avoid at all costs repeating a word, even though repetition might be the natural, normal thing to do: The audience had a certain bovine placidity, instead of The audience was as placid as cows. Elegant variation is often the rock, and a stereotype, a cliché, or a tired metaphor the hard place between which inexperienced or foolish writers come to grief. The familiar middle ground in treating these homely topics is almost always the safest. In untrained or unrestrained hands, a thesaurus can be dangerous."


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