The Age Reviews: Bullshit
Glancing back over the undulating seas of time, I can’t think of a single The Age book review that has ever given me the impetus to go out and buy whatever it is they happen to recommend. This being my thesis, I decided to take a little look at what The Age had on offer today, in order to categorically establish whether or not they know what the fuck they are doing..
Approximately ninety-two thousand, three hundred and twenty-seven books have been written about the Cold War, and a great many are priced below the $50 that publishers are asking for this effort. The interesting thing about the Cold War is that it was history that never happened: all of it was conjecture and doublethink, but we’ve been jawing about it ever since. Baby boomers too young to have lived through WWII, and too old to have given
This book came out in the middle of 2004. I didn’t care about it then, and I don’t care about it now. The authors it allegedly attacks – David Foster Wallace, Philip Roth, Julian Barnes, Jim Crace, Don DeLillo, Jonathan Franzen, James Joyce, etc. – were irrelevant when people were reading them, and are well past irrelevance now, resembling no more than hunks of cheap cheese that have been grated to a point that, should you wish to grate them further, you will be shredding your fingers in the process. The review concludes: “While it would be deliciously satisfying to accuse Peck of being naked himself, his clothes look remarkably well cut, if somewhat showy.” I was writing shit like that in Year 9. Rating: D
Apparently a “pot-boiler set in NSW during the Great Depression of the 1930s”. I’m sure the Depression was rough, but using it as the cornerstone for your literary excreta is no longer original, and the fawning praise by Bryce Courtenay only seals the deal: three months from now, after nobody has borrowed it from the local library, you’ll find a pristine copy of The Murrimbidgee Kid on the shelf at the Salvation Army reject shop, tucked between a handful of Clive Cussler softbacks and a stack of those editions of Michael Chrichton’s Prey that they were giving away for free with the newspaper a while ago. Rating: D-
I’d never heard of Anson Cameron before right now but, judging from his picture, he probably wanted to be a jockey until
Jay McInerney is like the half-aborted lovechild of Bret Eaton Ellis and Martin Amis, with two important differences: the first is that nobody reads Jay McInerney, and the second is they don’t read him because he sucks. New Yorkers attending parties and coming to grips with the tragedy of September 11, replete with “references to brand names and celebrities” (echoes of DeLillo)? Put me on the “Do Not Call” list, thanks,
Possibly this is a fascinating book, as I’ve always had an interest in the biographies of prestigious, globally-renowned newspapers, but at $60, which is nearly two slabs of beer, I guess we’ll never know. Rating: C
Another $60 stocking-stuffer. Henri Cartier-Bresson is a photojournalist, now dead, who used to take pictures of people like Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Henri Matisse, William Faulkner, and, uh, Coco Chanel. Great. Props to the reviewer for using the word “belletrist” (“a writer of belles lettres”), however. The teaser to the review reads: “Cartier-Bresson's name is indisputably associated with photojournalism.” In other words, nobody gives a shit about this book and the editor didn’t bother to read my copy. Rating: C-
I’m sorry to keep going on about cover prices, I really am, but I can think of better ways for a child to spend $39.95 than on a book of poetry by Ted Hughes. Pokemon cards and Passion Pop, for example. Rating: C
A book about Afghan refugees in
There are some other books reviewed on the The Age website but already I’m bored with the whole exercise, and so are you. Ave atque vale!