Category Archives: Criticism

Obamarama (part two)

I recently subscribed to Rolling Stone, mostly to indulge in Matt Taibbi’s articles and the best biweekly political barometer in print, “The Good, the Bad, and the Scary.” But I cannot abide by their tendency to print what amounts to a transcription of an interview.

It’s lazy writing at best, and filler at worst. I don’t care if it’s by the publisher himself, the indomitable Jann S. Wenner, buyer-out of Disney. I love the cover photo of Barack Obama looking happy and bashful, with only the mailing label obscuring part of his shoulder, but so much more could have been done here.

Obamarama (part one)

I started reading Barack Obama’s pre-Senate days book “Dreams From My Father” and the introduction alone was extraordinary in terms of comparative politics:

For the first time in many years, I’ve pulled out a copy and read a few chapters to see how much my voice may have changed over time. I confess to wincing every so often at a poorly chosen words, a mangled sentence, an expression of emotion that seems indulgent or overly practiced. I have the urge to cut the book by fifty pages or so, possessed as I am with a keener appreciation for brevity.

Imagine, we just might end up with a president who cares about the language he speaks and writes.

Death to the ticker tape!

Television news shows are terrible to watch, and I believe they contribute greatly to attention deficit disorder. You have the anchor talking, a ticker with news (usually poorly spelled), stock numbers, and graphics popping up left and right. Stories are short, lack context, and (especially with local news programs) the images are nothing more than filler and played over and over again. Each bit of news is designed simply to be digestible, and encourage no discussion or action.

Read a newspaper, dammit, and learn how to corroborate information.

Augusten Burroughs: wannabe stylist

I read “Possible Side Effects” the other day, and was somewhat disappointed. A friend of mine had highly recommended Augusten Burroughs, and I bought the book expecting Burroughs to be another David Sedaris, but instead I found a mess. An orderly mess, but a mess nonetheless. Hey, that rhymes.

A typical paragraph is constructed like so: short sentence, short sentence, long sentence, short sentence, sentence fragment, sentence fragment. It’s regular enough to be considered stylistic, but irritating. Most of the fragments are unnecessary, obvious, and reading them feels like stumbling over the prose. A good sentence fragment serves as a verbal punctuation mark. Burroughs’ sentence fragments feel more like a verbal !!!!!!!1!!!!11.