Sunday, February 17, 2008

Reviewing the Reviewers

This weekend's edition of the Globe and Mail didn't send me into the apoplexy of rage that it often does, especially the Book Review section, which actually included several well-reasoned critiques, including one by my colleague Lorna Jackson. (I suck up to her not simply because she wields power over whether I keep my present job but also because she has spent a lot of creative energy wrestling with the art and duty of the book reviewer.)

Still, a word choice in one review stuck in my craw. Because of my generous mood, I'll leave the writer anonymous. Instead, I'll indulge in a frequent daydream fantasy that I call "Words I'd Ban if I Were Made Dictionary Deity":

From all book reviews: lambent, lustrous, luminous... in fact, any light-emitting diction to describe someone else's prose or poetry. These adjectives are as vague as the equally galling modifier nuanced, although perhaps they serve a role as code words to warn that the book under study is yet another of the faux-poetic, over-written CanLit melodramas that make me want to take my eyes out with a fork.

From the style sections of newspapers and magazines: I know, having written plenty of trends fluff and home porn myself, that "lifestyle journalism" is an oxymoron. Still, I think we can finally fumigate the following literary tics: fashionista, foodie, boite (for a restaurant rather than a
box of takeaway in France), and bling (unless, of course, you have gold teeth, diamond-encrusted brass knuckles, and did a nickel in Sing Sing before recording your first multi-platinum gangsta rap album).

And, mea culpa, my own over-fondness for cutesy dialogue tags. No one should muse, opine, or marvel about anything. Stop me before I opine again.

1 comment:

richard said...

And my own favourite but inexplicable loathing, "natch," once much beloved of entertainment-biz insider-y types.