Saturday, July 29, 2017

Hoping for More Essays From Michiko Kakutani!

Article from The New York Times, July 27 2017, written by Sydney Ember.

I grew up reading almost all of Michiko Kakutani's book reviews. I don't always pick up the books she reviews, but I gain a richer understanding of the intent of the book through her words. Her reviews are a huge factor in my continued subscription to The New York Times. Oof. Well, the not-unknown Parul Sehgal takes over as Chief Book Critic, so that's a bit of comfort.

The Times has nicely compiled a long list of her 'best reviews' in her 38 years with the newspaper. I'm really going to miss her on-point reviews of books. She's totally legendary. She has some choice words and when it comes to a less than stellar comment about books by established authors or celebrities, she's got a firm head on her shoulders. I don't think we'll ever forget that at a lecture at Harvard University in 2008, Jonathan Franzen called her "the stupidest person in New York City" in for her earlier brutal review of his memoir 'The Discomfort Zone' (2006).

Many of us would have read her brilliant review of Volker Ullrich's 'Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939' (2016) and perhaps, convulsed in laughter at the unmistakable parallel of American politics or the perceived brilliant shade thrown at a certain clown. But I didn't read the book per se. At some point this year, I'll plough through it. (As though all those years of studying history weren't enough.) Michiko Kakutani doesn't fear wading into controversy or making authors unhappy, and that's what make her reviews honest and riveting.

Grinned at the reminder of her fondness in the use of 'limn' and 'limns'. Came across that when I was really young. That was my first realization that the word doesn't stem from a Chinese surname and it isn't a misspelling of it either. LOL. She's quite the symbol of literary criticism for me, and I probably based a lot of literature essays on that. :P I've got no idea what form Michiko Kakutani will use to write about the matters of culture and politics in today's America, but I'll be keeping an eye out for them.

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