04 December 2007

Bullshit Writing

How come any asshole that picks up a pen/paintbrush/camera and creates a work based on a horrific human tragedy such as the Holocaust, or the war in Iraq, or 9/11, receives critical acclaim for said work, regardless of the actual merits behind it?? Sure, give them a pat on the back for commemorating a shared tragedy, but for god's sake don't lie and tell them their work is profound, moving, and is a display of true passion and talent. There are those that do, in fact, use their natural, real talents to bring humanity's collective unconscious emotions to the surface for all to experience. Not everyone has this talent, nor do they all have the same intentions in creating such art.

For my part, I think such sub-par efforts are offensive to the victims, their families, their communities. It feels more like these artists are using the tragedy to further their own ends, rather than to truly pay homage to those that suffered. Who would give a bad review to a book about a massively tragic event? It actually makes me quite ill to think about.

I'm currently suffering through A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell (I was convinced to be in a reading group- we'll see how long that lasts). It's about Italian Jews during the Holocaust, the mere thought of which brings heavy tears to my eyes (I can't watch the news these days because I crumble in the face of man's inhumanity to man, or to beast, or to earth). The Washington Post Book World said it best in a quote on the back of the book: "...full of action, paced like a rapid fire thriller...". The book is written like any common fluffed up thriller. The many characters, which the author seems to take great pains to "develop", appear to me to be empty and unrealistic. Complete cliches. It's as if she took a basic outline for writing a sure-fire action thriller novel, and applied the story of the Holocaust to it. How can you go wrong there?? Anyone with that formula, no job, and SEVEN YEARS on their hands could pump out trash like that. She uses her background in anthropology as filler material between uninspired descriptions of the colors of the sky, the sea, the mountains, whatever the landscape is she describes the color changes for the length of at least a couple of sentences.

There's a time and a place and even a dedicated readership for novels of this caliber, but please, please, I beg you, critics, whoever you are, don't pretend that they are profound masterpieces that should go down in history as classics.

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