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Jim Crace's Deliciously Sarcastic Column Turns 10

abstract:Jim Crace is the author of, among other books, Being Dead a novel about a middle-aged couple who sneak away for a beach picnic and spontaneous tryst among the sand dunes, who are subsequently accosted and bludgeoned (sounds gory and off-putting but it's fascinating). The reader experiences the victims' agonal death in a rather David Lynch, "Twin Peaks" hyper-real perspective from inside one of the victim's brains while the bodies become an entomology lesson in the art of decay. Coincidentally, I'd just read Being Dead when I attended a reading by Michael Cunningham at Royce Hall in Los Angeles. Cunningham admitted that he'd just read Being Dead and loved Jim Crace. I'm not calling to order a meeting of the Jim Crace admiration society, rather I am calling to your attention to the fact that a decade, yes a DECADE people, has elapsed since Jim Crace began writing his deliciously satirical literary review column for The Guardian entitled "Digested Read." It is an absolute scream. As Crace says, "The primary goal is to entertain something the book itself has often failed to do but it's also intended as a (semi) serious critique, for much of the fun is derived from clunky plot devices that don't work, pretentious stylistic tics, risible dialogue and an absence of big ideas. Literary criticism does not have to be dull to be serious." It's based on the premise that many books are reviewed glowingly and inadequately by people who either (gasp) haven't read the book, or worse, didn't really "get it." Jim pokes fun at the books and writers he has "digested" and regurgitates a delightful masticated blurb that will have you ruminating like a bovine on E. So celebrate a decade of critique with me by plowing through Crace's column and see how it effects your views on some of the books you've likely read and authors you likely admire. Crace says, "Satire when it's accurate isn't cruel." I for one will never look at Martin Amos or his books the same again.


February 28, 2010



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