Thursday, January 03, 2008

"A Bright Shining Lie"

I've been hearing nothing but wonderful things about Denis Johnson's Tree of Smoke and the only thing that's prevented me from reading it already is its length - it's a big book and I'm not quite ready to make that kind of commitment. Still, I'm looking forward to it. And then yesterday I finally got around to reading the December 2007 issue of The Atlantic and see this review of the book by B.R. Myers: A Bright Shining Lie. Myers, you may remember, has made waves in the past with his "A Reader's Manifesto." I doubt that this piece is going to hurt Johnson's sales or, for that matter, his feelings - given the source. But it certainly is breathtaking to read comments like:

"It's the most critically acclaimed novel of the fall. And it's astonishingly bad."

"Underlying the hype is the silly notion that if a work introduces plenty of characters and traipses after them for enough years and pages, it is ipso facto ambitious."

"It is not always easy to tell whether Johnson is being serious or merely unfunny, but I sense no irony here."


Okay, now I want to read it even more.

1 comment:

mikalroy said...

I thought Myers' "Reader's Manifesto" was spot on, so his review of the Johnson book gave me pause.

Will read it anyway, but knowing that Myers and I are likeminded about DeLillo and many other wildly overrated writers makes me fearful.

Michael S.