by Kieran Healy on September 8, 2003

Dan Drezner quotes Clive James to good effect on snarky literary reviews. James is the author of the poem “The Book of my Enemy has been Remaindered,” which captures the quintessence of literary schadenfreude that we get a whiff of when reading snarky reviews:

The book of my enemy has been remaindered
And I am pleased.
In vast quantities it has been remaindered
Like a van-load of counterfeit that has been seized
And sits in piles in a police warehouse,
My enemy’s much-prized effort sits in piles
In the kind of bookshop where remaindering occurs.
Great, square stacks of rejected books and, between them, aisles
One passes down reflecting on life’s vanities,
Pausing to remember all those thoughtful reviews
Lavished to no avail upon one’s enemy’s book —
For behold, here is that book
Among these ranks and banks of duds,
These ponderous and seemingly irreducible cairns
Of complete stiffs.



nnyhav 09.08.03 at 1:40 pm

Oh, the humanities! (Sorry.) CJ’s essays (wellturned periodpieces) aside (and this poem in all the anthologies), his first novel (not counting his first memoir), Brilliant Creatures, is worth a look, though not up to the standard of David Lodge’s Nice Work.


nnyhav 09.08.03 at 1:46 pm

(Sorry, above should be Small World, second and best of Lodge’s trilogy.)


Ophelia Benson 09.08.03 at 6:27 pm

Oh, I don’t know, I think Nice Work is pretty good. I’m not crazy about the more farcical or semi-demi-magic realism aspects of Small World, and I do like the for once in depth portrait of a real, complicated woman in NW. Plus I like Vic, I like the culture clash between the two of them. My vote is for NW as the best of the three.


Tom Runnacles 09.08.03 at 7:14 pm

‘The Edsels of the world of moveable type’ clearly ought to be the name of somebody’s blog. Any volunteers?

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