Tuesday, June 10, 2014

How not to write a review

Keith Pille reviews Tom Robbins' memoir, Tibetan Peach Pie, at Slate. You can tell it isn't going to be good right from the subhead:
What happens when a 20-year-old constructs his personality completely out of reading Tom Robbins novels?
Yes, the review is not of the memoir, about which we learn almost nothing, but about the reviewer.

And it get's worse.
Build a personality out of these bricks, then, and you’ll get a very specific kind of guy. In my case, my Robbins phase left me very passionate about making and appreciating art. It left me suspicious of consumer society, skeptical of authority (particularly governmental authority), and completely uninterested in participating in any organized religion. Other Robbins fans I’ve known through the years fell very much along the same lines.
Now, take a good look at those traits; they are not exactly rare in a young man in his twenties. They are pretty clichéd set of values and suggest a young man who did not spend a lot of time thinking for himself.

As to Robbins himself, I couldn't say. I tried reading Even Cowgirls Get the Blues twice. I really liked it for fifty pages or so both times but ended up putting it down and never picking it up again. The writing was often brilliant but I didn't care what happened to any of the characters enough to find out. That may be Robbins fault or it may be mine.

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