Prufrock's Page

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Myers' Manifesto

One can't help but admire B.R. Myers' independent, if utterly audacious viewpoint -- even if one wonders whether he's taking his agenda too far. Consider his review of Denis Johnson's Tree of Smoke. Now, this is a novel that has been lauded by critics all over, being mentioned in more than one "best of the year" list (Here's what The Washington Post said, for example: "To write a fat novel about the Vietnam War nearly 35 years after it ended is an act of literary bravado. To do so as brilliantly as Denis Johnson has in Tree of Smoke is positively a miracle").

But Myers isn't impressed. He tears the prose and the subject to bits, with ample quotations from the book to prove his point. Fair enough: the man's entitled to dislike the book, and he's given reasons aplenty for doing so. But he doesn't stop there. He also takes petulant issue with the critics who've reviewed it favourably, finding it "difficult to believe" that they like the novel. And he positively froths at the mouth when he writes: "...once we Americans have ushered a writer into the contemporary pantheon, we will lie to ourselves to keep him there."

Good heavens. And people thought his A Reader's Manifesto went too far.


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