"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 |



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



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

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