"Not another incisive book reviewer!" Tom said, critically.

Scott McLemee makes the excellent point in his post on Critical Mass  that political blogger Jon Swift should be considered one of our country's most incisive book reviewers, even if the solons at Amazon.com have squelched some of his contributions to their fine intellectual journal. Or rather, perhaps he should be considered an excellent reviewer because of their deletions.

At any rate, in the tradition of scrupulous honesty that characterizes all book blogging, Mr. Swift begins each review with the confidence-inspiring declaration that "I have not actually read this book, but ...." and then proceeds to make such trenchant observations as the following about Ana Marie Cox's Dog Days: "Most people nowadays write non-fiction books with bits of fiction secretly interspersed throughout, sort of like Where's Waldo for adults. But Ms. Cox has brilliantly turned this idea on its head and written a fiction book with bits of non-fiction secretly inserted into the text. I wonder if Oprah knows about this unique innovation."

Or this, about Ben Shapiro's Porn Generation: How Social Liberalism is Corrupting Our Future: "I don't plan to read a book that is basically pornography. I must confess that when I was a teenager we used to look at books like this, which claimed to condemn pornography and various perversions, but went into very explicit detail about them. We would mark the dirty parts and pass them around."

Mr. Swift proudly points out that, contra Amazon, his work has inspired serious comment, notably a spectacularly self-defeating whine/rant by Michael Fumento, author of Fat of the Land, and an admiring citation by the Uncyclopedia.

It's here that book/daddy took special interest --

-- because on occasion the Uncyclopedia entry (on the Politically Incorrect Guides) sounds much like the deadpan Mr. Swift himself. Consider this:

"The P.I.G. series began with the publication of The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, by Thomas E. Woods Jr. Woods's original thesis was that "History has been hijacked by second-rate community college assistant professors who often write alternate history to promote a personal ideological agenda." His ideas have since withstood criticism and are now accepted by the majority of historians in his immediate family."

 And this:

"This short (around two pages) but powerful guide gives you everything you need to know about the Holocaust. Includes a Table of Contents and Index."

This would not be the first case of a cultural/political journalist touting his own work while in disguise, now would it?

Yes, of course, online deceit is exceedingly unusual, if not completely unheard of. Nonetheless,  we bloggers must sadly but courageously acknowledge it on those rare occasions when it does happen (book/daddy is looking at you, Prince Neyere of Nigeria) and even when, maybe it isn't occurring at all, maybe it's a coincidence, maybe it's merely the faintest echo -- who can say in this crazy, mixed-up digital universe? But it's still worth pointing the finger and shouting "J'accuse!" anyway because, let's be honest, haven't we all wanted to do that at some time?

If not now, when? And if not online, where?
June 23, 2008 3:57 PM | | Comments (0)


Leave a comment


Best of the Vault


Pat Barker, Frankenstein, Cass Sunstein on the internet, Samuel Johnson, Thrillers, Denis Johnson, Alan Furst, Caryl Phillips, Richard Flanagan, George Saunders, Michael Harvey, Larry McMurtry, Harry Potter and more ...


Big D between the sheets -- Dallas in fiction


Reviewing the state of reviewing


9/11 as a novel: Why?


How can critics say the things they do? And why does anyone pay attention? It's the issue of authority.

The disappearing book pages:  

Papers are cutting book coverage for little reason

Thrillers and Lists:  

Noir favorites, who makes the cut and why



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by book/daddy published on June 23, 2008 3:57 PM.

By their semi-colons ye shall know them. was the previous entry in this blog.

Mayborn aborning is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

AJ Ads

AJ Blogs

AJBlogCentral | rss

About Last Night
Terry Teachout on the arts in New York City
Artful Manager
Andrew Taylor on the business of arts & culture
blog riley
rock culture approximately
critical difference
Laura Collins-Hughes on arts, culture and coverage
Richard Kessler on arts education
Douglas McLennan's blog
Dog Days
Dalouge Smith advocates for the Arts
Art from the American Outback
Life's a Pitch
For immediate release: the arts are marketable
Mind the Gap
No genre is the new genre
Performance Monkey
David Jays on theatre and dance
Plain English
Paul Levy measures the Angles
Real Clear Arts
Judith H. Dobrzynski on Culture
Rockwell Matters
John Rockwell on the arts
Straight Up |
Jan Herman - arts, media & culture with 'tude

Foot in Mouth
Apollinaire Scherr talks about dance
Seeing Things
Tobi Tobias on dance et al...

Jazz Beyond Jazz
Howard Mandel's freelance Urban Improvisation
Focus on New Orleans. Jazz and Other Sounds
Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters...

Out There
Jeff Weinstein's Cultural Mixology
Serious Popcorn
Martha Bayles on Film...

classical music
Creative Destruction
Fresh ideas on building arts communities
The Future of Classical Music?
Greg Sandow performs a book-in-progress
On the Record
Exploring Orchestras w/ Henry Fogel
Harvey Sachs on music, and various digressions
Bruce Brubaker on all things Piano
Kyle Gann on music after the fact
Greg Sandow on the future of Classical Music
Slipped Disc
Norman Lebrecht on Shifting Sound Worlds

Jerome Weeks on Books
Quick Study
Scott McLemee on books, ideas & trash-culture ephemera

Drama Queen
Wendy Rosenfield: covering drama, onstage and off
lies like truth
Chloe Veltman on how culture will save the world

Aesthetic Grounds
Public Art, Public Space
Another Bouncing Ball
Regina Hackett takes her Art To Go
John Perreault's art diary
Lee Rosenbaum's Cultural Commentary
Modern Art Notes
Tyler Green's modern & contemporary art blog
Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.