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A picture of Milton on the Kindle.  Because I found it on the internet.

A picture of Milton on the Kindle. Because I found it on the internet.

Sunday’s New York Times Book Review included a cheerful and kindly description of The Whiskey Rebels in its paperback roundup.  Always nice, of course, but in this case particularly nice since you may recall that the actual review of the book was a right-wing hatchet job full of factual error and douchebaggery.  Nice job of setting the record straight, NYT.  Now, how about a fair-minded review of The Devil’s Company?  Something sooner than seven months after publication if you please.

The justly-humiliated author of that review was named Walter Olson.  On a completely unrelated subject, I just finished proofing my short story for the forthcoming zombie anthology, The New Dead, and I’m quite happy with it.  The story, called “What Maisie Knew,” is about a morally suspect character named Walter Molson.  As I say, these two subjects are unrelated.

Alan Cheuse.  Also from -- that's right -- the internet.

Alan Cheuse. Also from -- that's right -- the internet.

Speaking of reviewers who bug me, did anyone see Alan Cheuse’s review of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Played With Fire in The San Francisco Chronicle?  I’m undecided if I am going to read this book or not.  I forced myself through the previous book in the trilogy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and was under-whelmed.  On the other hand, you have to respect a book written by a dead Swede no one has ever heard of that becomes an international phenom.  Also, the new one is alleged to be better and to feature more prominently the character, Lisbeth Salander, who was really the only interesting thing about the first book. 

Anyhow, I have a long-standing hostility toward Cheuse, a regular book reviewer on NPR, because he’s never reviewed my books on NPR.  Reason enough to put him on the list, I know, but in his review of the dead Swede’s work, Cheuse writes, “The books are so good, in fact, that I have to keep reminding myself that they are genre novels, not mainstream fiction.”  Now, the hundreds of thousands of you who read this blog regularly will recall I commented very recently on this issue of how seriously the world takes genre fiction, but this comment takes the cake.  Am I supposed to believed that quality is exclusive to mainstream fiction alone?  Would a reviewer ever write that I had to keep reminding myself that this bad novel was mainstream fiction because he thought crappy writing and shallow characters were the province of genre fiction alone?  It’s one thing to expect inferior writing in genre fiction, quite another to presume inferior writing is a necessary characteristic of genre fiction.   Perhaps Cheuse doesn’t read very many crime novels, but if that’s the case, he ought to have refrained from comparing one writer’s work to something about which he knows very little.  I also think he ought to review The Devil’s Company on NPR.  Who’s with me?

9 Responses to “”

  1. Andy says:

    I got that book you recommended in your last blog entry- “This is Where I Leave You”. I read it last night cover to cover from about 8:00 to 11:30… I should have been asleep at 9:30, but it was just that right (or wrong) length so that I feel like I can finish it in one night, but long enough to keep me up way past my bedtime. It’s really the worst length a book can be- especially for such an enjoyable read… I thank you, David, for ensuring your books are long enough that it’s impossible for me to rationalize keeping on reading past my bedtime, because they will take at least three nights of solid reading.

  2. Ilana D. says:

    I’m hoping your next post will include a photo of Milton *using* a Kindle.

  3. David Liss says:

    I know he would have appreciated being able to increase the font size.

  4. Totally agree that The Devil’s Company should be reviewed on NYT and/or NPR. Luckily I keep looking for your books and as soon as my library has them come in-I’m on it. However, one of the hallmarks of your work to my mind is the combo of great writing, great story and window into a period. There is a great quote from Maimonides which is Hebrew is “Hamayvin Yavin” which literally means- Those who get it, get it” and its intent is that those who need to know-know. I am sure that is true of your work.

  5. Eileen says:

    I wonder WHY Cheuse has to remind himself he’s reading genre fiction. Is it so that he won’t wander out of the house with the paperback, where he’ll be mocked by his earnest beardy friends? That’s another great thing about the Kindle: No one can tell what you’re reading.

  6. gary kaplan says:

    The Girl With the Dragon Tatto was incredible,after enduring the early pages.

    Let us know if you read the sequel.

    As I understand it, the author dies prior to finishing the book, and the fellow you mention in the blog carries the gauntlet to the finish line.

    Never enjoyed Bruce Lee movies made after he was gone,so can’t imagine this being any different.

  7. Anja says:

    Eileen, that’s funny! Beardy-friends–LOL.

    Yeah, you’re right about the Kindle–I’ve had 2 Palm PDA’s and now have an IPhone with a Kindle App to take books when I travel to Europe. Not only does no one know what you’re reading, but they can’t even tell what language you speak. I like the idea of riding on a train or bus in Italy and no one knows I’m a Yankee.

  8. Rebecca Turner says:

    What made it right wing and what were the factual errors? Just curious.

    Have been reading your books non stop for a week and a half now. I am in love. (with the books)

  9. B.N. Hare says:

    Unfortunately I read the first NYTBR review of The Whiskey Rebels and decided to give the book a pass even though I liked A Conspiracy of Paper. Any fan of Henry Fielding is worth reading. (And it’s a good thing J.D. Salinger didn’t copyright Pamela or where would the novel as an art form be today?)
    Fortunately I also read the second review (the squib), bought the book, and was absolutely delighted. Compulsive reading with great characters. By the way, Larsson could have used your help writing about finance. Hell, he could have used anybody’s help, particularly an editor’s.

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