Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Blinded by the Light Metaphors

Okay, now the Globe is really starting to bug me! A week after I complained about the fondness of its book reviewers for vague, pretentious light-emitting adjectives, what happens in this weekend's Books section? Let me quote from from the final paragraph of a review of Mary Swan's new book on page 3:
...the ripples Swan crafts in The Boys in the Trees reveal layers of darkness as textured and shaded—even luminous—to anyone familiar with looking deeply into shadows.
It's bad enough that the word is foregrounded between em-dashes, but the editors had to rub my nose in it with the following headline for the review:
Dark, horrific, gripping, luminous
Ack! If I were paranoid (and I'm not saying I'm not), I'd start to worry that someone was reading my blog and baiting me on purpose. Please, please, let Martin Levin know. Please, please, join my desperate petition: No more luminous prose. Nor more lustrous writing. Or lambent. Or incandescent or radiant.

Maybe, in our age of climate change, if a reviewer wants to praise someone's "compact, fluorescent new novel", I'll accept that low-wattage alternative. But I remain blind to all the other light-minded review-writing clich├ęs.


richard said...

A luminous darkness, this novel? Perhaps the reviewer was blinded by the dark somehow.

Lorna said...

I outlawed "luminous" years ago when writing for Quill and Quire. It usually means, I think, that the author is caring about words over plot and the reviewer doesn't understand why or what's going on with that, but it must be fancy/cerebral and lit from within. My other rankler is "gritty." Means? Swear words and bodily fluids? I remember an editor at Georgia Straight--probably John Burns--objecting to my use of the word "kudos" in a review; it was a word, apparently, banned from the Straight lexicom and out it came, bless him. Rightly so. It is the role of editors to save us from ourselves.