Thursday, November 8, 2012

You can't tell a book by its cover--and maybe not from its reviews, either

The review from The New Yorker:
"(The author) wallows in his own laughter and finally drowns in it..."

The review from the Atlantic Monthly:
"There is a difference, after all, between milking a joke (the great gift of the old comedians) and stretching it out till you kill it..."

The review from the New York Times:
" gasps for want of craft and sensibility...The book is an emotional hodgepodge, no mood is sustained long enough to register for more than a chapter..."

The book in question, arriving to these terrible reviews, was published back in 1961.

A book that was this bad, published more than 50 years ago--it would figure that it soon sank from view. Who would know about it today? Well, you might be surprised. The book was Joseph Heller's Catch 22.

(Review quotes from Rotten Reviews Redux: A Literary Companion, edited by Bill Henderson. Pushcart Press, hardback, $18.95)

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