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More criticism, please

In the new “Summer Reading” issue of The Walrus, former National Post books editor Andy Lamey calls for more harsh criticism in book reviewing land. In doing so, he recounts some frustrations from his Post days, when many Canadian authors would refrain from reviewing the work of their colleagues, for fear of stepping on toes and being stepped upon in turn. “We would then politely lie to each other: he would offer some perfectly implausible explanation for why he didn’t review Canadian fiction, and I would pretend to take it seriously.”

To his credit, Lamey does differentiate between effective and ineffective attacks. His piece is actually a review of new review collections from Dale Peck (Hatchet Jobs) and James Wood (The Irresponsible Self). While Peck’s work relies on “empty spasms,” argues Lamey, Wood’s is the real deal: “Wood’s appeal derives not merely from the fact that he is often critical, a quality he shares with Peck, but from the fact that he is so consistently and brilliantly convincing.”

Related links:
Andy Lamey’s Walrus piece on Dale Peck and James Wood