No matter what I am writing about today (except maybe a note to my mother, "Warren who?") I have to say that Warren Zevon's passing is heartbreaking. I spent the day listening to a two CD anthology. I didn't feel so bad after that. I mean, "The gorilla at the LA Zoo took the glasses off of my face…"
Anyway, as we all know an immutable law of the Universe is that snark begets snark. Say "yo mama," to someone and what do you expect in return? In the literary world Dale Peck's infamous review of Rick Moody in which Bad Boy called Moody "the worst writer of his generation" may be a bench mark of sorts. In March of this year a new magazine, The Believer, was launched with its editor offering what has been called a manifesto, tossing down the gauntlet to all the nasties in the book reviewing sport. This, of course, was greeted with predictable doctrinaire responses. And also predictable was the apparent lack of effect it had on the ground.
Fast forward to Laura Miller's recent ham-fisted pummeling of Chuck Palahniuk's new novel which touched off a series of skirmishes along the hustings of the known literary world such as this one at the antic muse which also noted the inauguration of the Snarkwatch (I'm sure you can figure that one out). The fray continues at antic muse's September 5th entry Jumping the Snark.
Enter samurai Clive James with his September 7th NYT piece, The Good of a Bad Review which as one commentator aptly opines, wraps up the debate better than anyone else had (or probably could). And not that this will be the end of the controversy, though surprisingly— in an attention addled age—it has gone on longer than I would have expected, Alex Good reports from northern precincts calling the Snarkwatch an inquisition and rendering some worthy objections on various "beliefs" about reviewing.
Anyway, like Warren Zevon sang, "Life will kill ya." I was tempted to write RIP, but it doesn't seem appropriate…