Guilty Pleasures: Hatchet Jobs

Wuthering Heights
Time will tell, and sometimes the author (or at least the book) gets the last laugh, “Here all the faults of Jane Eyre (by Charlotte Brontë) are magnified a thousand fold, and the only consolation which we have in reflecting upon it is that it will never be generally read.” -James Lorimer, North British Review, 1847, on Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë”

In addition to bringing us the Bad Sex in Literature Award (I think John Updike won their equivalent of the Irving G. Thalberg lifetime achievement medal), the Brits have also created The Hatchet Job of the Year award, promoting “integrity and wit in literary journalism.” The eight finalists include some “laugh out loud on the subway” moments.

The Guardian has an article as well as a slideshow with choice water balloon bits:

Utter drivel

Cod philosophy

repellent arrogance

(Although, to be fair, who on earth would read AN Wilson’s Hitler book? And many poets don’t seem to be able to get it together for a novel. If your usual occupation is painting Fabergé eggs, you’re probably going to fail at painting a barn.)

Will anybody equal last year’s winner, Adam Mars-Jones take down of Michael Cunningham’s By Nightfall?, which he faults for, among other things, dangling undigested literary references like “tin cans behind a tricycle.” Mars-Jones also has a nice bit about taking on writers outside your punching class:

There are some writers you shouldn’t challenge if you can help it – as Flannery O’Connor remarked about Faulkner’s superior power, “nobody wants his mule and wagon stalled on the same track the Dixie Limited is roaring down.”

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