Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Is It Mean to Laugh at Someone's Book Review?

I have nothing against Pat Conroy, who seems like a very generous writer—and I admit that I listened to Prince of Tides, enthralled, as miles melted away on a loooonng cross-country drive—but I still laughed at this Washington Post review:

“When I was on Page 322 of Pat Conroy's 514-page new novel, "South of Broad," I began to feel that the characters were crying a lot, which wouldn't have bothered me if the characters were children. They're not. So, I began noting in the margins each time an adult let loose with the waterworks. The finding? Characters cry, sob, tear, weep, wail and well up on the following pages: 322, 330, 340, 354, 367, 382, 393, 395, 396, 403, 418, 419, 420, 429, 439, 440, 444, 448 (twice), 452, 462, 463, 465, 466, 467, 477, 490 (twice) and 493. In addition to the main players in the novel, Meryl Streep is tearful on Page 447 and God weeps on Page 476. Bear in mind, these are only the tears I tracked in the last 200 pages of the tale.”

[All is not lost, though, as the review ends with a favorable assessment: “I should note that even though I felt stage-managed by Conroy's heavy hand, I still turned the pages with relish. Conroy is an immensely gifted stylist, and there are passages in the novel that are lush and beautiful and precise. No one can describe a tide or a sunset with his lyricism and exactitude.”]


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.