There was recently an interesting discussion at The Quarterly Conversation about what constitutes good literary criticism. J.C. Hallmann suggests that his fellow critics ought to approach literature not in the way critics do, but in the way writers do, in that writers are “perfectly comfortable saying that they simply liked a book—or disliked it.... Writers set out to celebrate the work rather than exhaust it....” In response, the editors quote Harold Bloom, who “gives us a phrase that is quite possibly the ideal definition of a critic: ‘the strong reader, whose readings will matter to others as well as to himself.’”
Reading these essays helped me find a way to write about Jonathan Lethem’s eighth novel, Chronic City. I think from these essays I took the permission I needed to plainly state here three things that I know already in my head and heart. First, I am not the strong reader I might like to be. Second, I found Chronic City tedious, boring, and uninspiring. Third, the second might find cause in the first.
Head over to Identity Theory for the rest.