Thursday, December 15, 2005

A Cheap Shot

but someone had to take it. My colleagues were most impressed with it. A letter I found it necessary to write to the ODT, which they were kind enough to publish:
I remain bemused by Ian Williams' review of The Fossil Pits (ODT, 3/12). He mounts a three-pronged attack - the first being that it needs a "ruthless editor", presumably because of the mid-paragraph jumps in narrative and the absence of speech marks [he complained about]. I suppose your reviewer would also have problems with other not so minor writers who employ the same techniques to a much greater extent - such as the Nobel prize winning author Jose Saramago or James Joyce.

A second objection is that the novel is "too clever" and lays down an "intellectual challenge" akin to giving readers the finger. Perhaps your reviewer simply is not up to the job; rather than accept it as a weakness on his own part, he blames the author. One simply cannot tell from the review but, I have to say, there can be no problem at all with authors who deploy their intellect to the fullest in their artistic endeavours.

The third criticism is most hard to understand: he complains that "serious" New Zealand writers are too complex! There appears to be an implicit assumption here that because he is a New Zealand author, Corballis should have eschewed complexity. Why?
Now I guess I should read the book. I did flick through it in the UBS and it did not strike me as being overly challenging. First, I have to finish reading Nigel Cox's Responsibility.


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