The Omnipotent Critic

I don’t see the point in starting a review with a sentence like this one written by Kyle Minor for Salon:

Eula Biss’ “Notes From No Man’s Land” is the most accomplished book of essays anyone has written or published so far in the 21st century.

Yes, I get it, you really like the book, and you want to find some way of communicating your enthusiasm. That’s fine. But “written or published”? Isn’t that taking things a little too far? So somehow you’re not only able to account for every book of essays that has been published in the last 13 years but also every unpublished manuscript sitting out there?

Again, I get that there’s a lot of enthusiasm for this book, and Minor actually does a good job of making the book sound compelling in the rest of the review, but there are much more defensible ways of saying this.

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Dontcha know every unpublished manuscript is a worthless piece of crap? Until it gets published, that is; afterwards then it’s great.


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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