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Snottiest review I have ever received


I'm rather glad I didn't see this back in September 1994 when it first appeared in the Atlantic, a magazien whose good opinion I would have liked to have.  This is it, complete:

Love & Sleep
by John Crowley.

Bantam, 502 pages, $22.95.

Mr. Crowley's novel begins with the proposition that "once, the world was not as it has since become." Let the reader be warned by this banality. The tale wanders plotlessly from the approximate present to Elizabethan England, encumbered by metaphysical and religious baggage, arcane references, and the philosophers' stone. There are ghosts, visions, and werewolves, but not even werewolves can locate any blood in the characters.


( 34 comments — Leave a comment )
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Aug. 17th, 2011 01:10 am (UTC)
I hope the werewolves bit him. What a maroon!

Aug. 17th, 2011 02:44 am (UTC)

I'm glad you didn't see it then, too.
Aug. 17th, 2011 04:28 am (UTC)
I laughed. It'd be interesting to see what books that reviewer liked.
Aug. 17th, 2011 06:41 am (UTC)
Probably contemporary realist fiction. Which is every bit as fantastical to me as contemporary fantasy fiction.
Aug. 17th, 2011 05:29 am (UTC)
For people who do not like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing they will not like.

Glad that it comes to you when the sting isn't fresh.
Aug. 17th, 2011 05:41 am (UTC)
Wow. That may be among the snottiest reviews anyone has received.
Aug. 17th, 2011 07:49 am (UTC)
Aegypt's in the air II
It's too bad for her that Miss Adams didn't like the book, but as they say, de gustibus non est disputandum. However, I wonder if she really gave it a chance at all, whether she did read the whole of it. Maybe she went through the first third, and coming upon the passage below she decided that it summed up the whole novel for her. Maybe she'd paid attention enough to realize that the story inside was somehow the story outside too. But then she was not diligent enough to make sure that the book she held in her hands was really the same that is described therein; which it is not.
Anyway, one could make the case that she plagiarized a bit of the novel in order to thrash it. Naughty.
I just happened to notice because I’m rereading Aegypt right now.

«In Book Two (which lay before Pierce) he would arrive in England, in the reign of Elizabeth, meet poets and magicians, and become a spy, or at least an intelligencer; and there would be plots, an execution, a severed head.

And yet in a sense there were really no people at all, no events in the book; all that was solid was thought; the characters were nothing but intimations of change in human form. The only real character was time; it was time that went through the transforming agonies of the hero, was bound, made to suffer, learned to change and arise again. Time’s body.

Maybe that’s why Kraft had left the book unfinished; maybe he had never intended it to be a book, a book with a plot and settings, at all.»
Aug. 17th, 2011 08:39 am (UTC)
It's not terribly witty for a pan. Was it credited to anyone? Vince Passaro?

My favorite pithy pan is of The Clash's final album Cut The Crap: "Cut the 'Cut the'."

In that spirit, you'd think that the reviewer could have been clever enough to say. "Love and Sleep: No and yes."
Aug. 17th, 2011 12:53 pm (UTC)
Oh thanks for that. A brilliant dish that now anyone can use. I am reminded also of the review of a performance of Hamlet (the New Yorker:) "X played the king as though afraid someone might play the ace."
(no subject) - mrwaggish - Aug. 17th, 2011 06:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - crowleycrow - Aug. 18th, 2011 12:58 am (UTC) - Expand
Oh thanks for that. - (Anonymous) - Aug. 26th, 2011 04:13 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Oh thanks for that. - crowleycrow - Aug. 26th, 2011 11:04 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - crowleycrow - Aug. 17th, 2011 12:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mrwaggish - Aug. 17th, 2011 06:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - whatifoundthere - Aug. 19th, 2011 05:45 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Aug. 20th, 2011 12:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - glennza - Aug. 20th, 2011 12:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Aug. 22nd, 2011 06:54 am (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 17th, 2011 09:45 am (UTC)
Ouch and what a loss to the reviewer not to be able to open the mind and heart. So many people want instant satisfaction without any intellectual or emotional work of any kind. It's a shame really.
Rodger Cunningham
Aug. 17th, 2011 12:24 pm (UTC)
Probably one of those reviewers that didn't realize the book was part of a series. You have your publisher to blame for that.
Aug. 17th, 2011 12:41 pm (UTC)
To a degree, yes. Bantam is a mass-market house at heart but one where an ardent ambitious young man became publisher by an unusual route, and he loved my work and published it (the first two Aegypt books in addition to Little, Big) in the face of disappointing sales and a baffled sales force, only acceding to the general unwisdom that no reader would buy the first volume of what was projected as a multi-volume novel until the others appeared (hey, J.K. Rowling had not yet been published) and the fact that subsequent volumes were, well, subsequent volumes had to be hid from readers, the idea being to sell books to readers despite their contents. (Bantam also published the third after my mentor was gone; I knew I was being effectually discarded when the original cover design, featuring the popular raised letters signifying worth, was replaced by a cover without them.)

Edited at 2011-08-17 12:51 pm (UTC)
Aug. 17th, 2011 02:48 pm (UTC)
snarky claptrap
Aug. 17th, 2011 07:18 pm (UTC)
Me no Leika
Aug. 18th, 2011 12:55 am (UTC)
Werewolves don't eat blood, do they? or not especially, I don't think.
Aug. 18th, 2011 12:56 am (UTC)
More flesh, I think, though the blood comes along with, see Merchant of Venice, Act V.
Aug. 18th, 2011 03:01 pm (UTC)
That is what I like to call some bullshit.
Aug. 26th, 2011 01:22 am (UTC)
Baby wombat icon love!
Aug. 20th, 2011 07:58 am (UTC)
Ah, speaking of which
... sad review, but reading the comments, a thought came back to me, one that I woke up with this morning, so it probably means that I first dreamed it:

John, I would like to know, in the event that some producer offers you to buy the rights for an adaptation of "Little, Big" and/ or "AEgypt," 1) would you accept, 2) which director would you like to see at the helm for each title and 3) is there a format you would prefer (a film for Little, Big, maybe in two parts like "The Best of Youth" and a series for AEgypt with four (of course) seasons and four to five episodes each season)?

These are idle thoughts, but I hope they are entertaining to you and the esteemed crowd here.
Aug. 26th, 2011 01:25 am (UTC)
My temptation is to say, "Well, that's The Atlantic for you". I was just yesterday wondering if they were queuing up their once-a-decade essay, "Science Fiction isn't literature and you should be ashamed of reading it". I'm pretty sure one of their outbursts along those lines was still fresh when this review appeared.

I actually like the journalism of The Atlantic a great deal, but the book reviews do nothing for me. And now they do less.
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