A Bad Day
Bunyip Stamps

Ideas Should Know Their Place

In this week's NYT Sunday Book Review Jeff Turrentine has written a most unkind and condescending review of Sarah Smith's Chasing Shakespear. Since I just spent five days staying at Sarah's in Maine and haven't read the book, I'm not in the position to provide an objective defense. However, I cannot help noticing the similarities between Turrentine's arguments, and those of Sven Berkert's attack on Margaret Atwood a while back. Certainly, Smith's novel focuses on the past and Atwood's on the future, and Smith's is a mystery novel, whereas Atwood is accused of writing science fiction. Nonetheless, their alleged literary crimes are apparently the same: privledging ideas over character. Don't these guys ever get tired of that argument?