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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

More bad prose

This is the typical bad prose one gets from a reviewer on the internet:
I think the worst element of reading this book was realizing that despite being a third person narrative, and despite the fact that this is an autobiography, Lin never uses either method of storytelling to let us into Sam’s mind. A flat character in a first person narrative would be unable to explain himself, but a third person narration could have analyzed Sam in some manner that makes him relevant. We never see why the hell Sam is a useless sack of crap and again, even if it is deliberate, it is a shitty way to tell a story. Of course, Lin could not use a third person narration to plunge Sam’s soul because he doesn’t have one. He’s just a ridiculous creature that eats stuff, exercises an empty ego and and periodically goes to jail and none of that is enough to justify telling a story.

Wordy ("...the worst element of reading this book was realizing that despite being....") Run-on sentences. Confusing. Is it a third-person narrative or is it not? What are the two methods of story-telling not used. If it is, in fact, a third-person narrative, then why isn't it? The writer confuses the verb "plunge" with "plumb." What the writer probably meant to say was something more like this:
The use of third-person narration in this ostensibly autobiographical novel is ineffective, especially since the story is not even focalized through the perspective of the unsympathetic protagonist, and the third person narrator refrains from interpreting the character's life. Thus the reader gains no insight into the motives behind Sam's seemingly meaningless existence, devoted to petty crime and the consumption of vegan smoothies.

I have nothing against obscenities, but used together with the fifth-grade style they bespeak immaturity. A little understatement would have been much more effective.

1 comment:

Clarissa said...

This review brought back the painful memories of grading final essays in my freshman course. There are many disorganized emotions coming from a mysterious source.