Thursday, June 03, 2004

Imagine, for a moment, being Michiko Kakutani, top literary critic at the New York Times and thus the top book reviewer in the world. Whose life could be more charmed? Can you think of any other job wielding as much power and prestige, yet having seemingly no attendant job stress? Were I, say, the director of the National Zoo, or the owner of the Yankees, I'd feel quite on top of the world, but the thrill associated with that would be seriously tempered by all the damn *work*. Michiko? What are her job stresses? Reading garbage? Hell, I read garbage for free all the time. And she has that best sort of reputation for a critic, too, even apart from her power: she's never savage for savagery's sake, but goodness, when she wields the icepick, she wields it with cool ferocity. As with this, from her review of Alice Walker's latest, um, thing, which Kakutani called "a remarkably awful compendium of inanities":

"In the end 'Now Is the Time to Open Your heart' is less a novel than a cloying collection of New Age homilies, multicultural pieties and trippy Carlos Casteneda-ish riffs, hung like politically correct Christmas ornaments on the armature of [the protagonist's] tortuous journey from self-pity to self-congratulation."



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