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Posts Tagged ‘Adam Mars-Jones’

The Hatchet Falls

January 9, 2013 | by

The Omnivore brings us the Hatchet Job of the Year Awards 2013. In their words, this pan-centric prize rewards “the writer of the angriest, funniest, most trenchant book review of the past twelve months” and “aims to raise the profile of professional critics and to promote integrity and wit in literary journalism.” View the shortlist here: few will be surprised to find Zoë Heller’s NYRB evisceration of Salman Rushdie’s Josef Anton, or that Naomi Woolf’s Vagina rated a few screeds. But who will win the year’s supply of potted shrimp? And has Adam Mars-Jones, 2012 winner for his Observer takedown of Michael Cunningham’s By Nightfall, done justice to his prize?




Hatchet Job: When Bad Reviewers Go Good

November 19, 2012 | by

In February of this year, Adam Mars-Jones, an English writer not much known in this country, won the inaugural Hatchet Job of the Year award for his review of Michael Cunningham’s Nightfall: “And a two-person epiphany has to outrank the single kind. Two comely young people standing in the lake shallows, ‘looking out at the milky haze of the horizon’—that’s not an epiphany, that’s a postcard.”

Geoff Dyer, another English writer, much better known since 2008’s Death in Venice, Jeff in Varanisi brought most of his strange work back into print, was nominated for his attack on Julian Barnes’s The Sense of an Ending:

Later, after Tony has broken up with his girlfriend, Adrian commits suicide. This would be my first objection. Obviously people commit suicide, for a variety of reasons, but in fiction they tend to do so primarily in the service of authorial convenience. And convenience invariably becomes a near-anagram of contrivance.

The impulse behind good bad reviews is not much understood, and whether understood or not, is usually disliked or dismissed. It’s considered ungenerous, as though generosity could never be misplaced. Read More »