The Mezunian

Die Positivität ist das Opium des Volkes, aber der Spott ist das Opium der Verrückten

Let’s Make Fun o’ Reviews for a Book I Ne’er Read

As someone who has written a review or 2, I’m fascinated by the art o’ reviewing in & o’ itself: not just the conclusions they set out, but also, specially, the arguments they set forth to try & back up those conclusions & how persuasive they seem to me. This is why I’ve written a few attacks gainst reviews in which I agree with the conclusion, such as an inane praiseworthy review for my favorite video game, Wario Land 3. This comes from my schooling, which ( probably to avoid getting sued for potentially violating freedom-o’-speech rights ) was openminded ’bout just ’bout any kind o’ conclusions, no matter how revolting, so long as one made a sophisticated attempt @ backing one’s arguments.

Thus for today I will go all the way & look @ reviews for a book I’ve ne’er read, some 2021 books called “Sorrow & Bliss: A Novel”. Yes, it really has “A Novel” as the official subtitle, & no, I have no idea why.

The only reason I e’en checked out this book was ’cause I found it on some list I found on Google that some rando named Steve Donaghue made o’ what he considered to be the worst fiction books o’ 2021:

In case so many of the rest of the books on this list haven’t given readers enough anti-science egomania, this idiotic, carpingly condescending story of a woman with a “mental illness” that mainly seems to turn her into a too-online Twitter-hole ought to make up the difference.

This is an all-too-common example o’ 1 o’ my least favorite types o’ terrible reviews: 1 that focuses so much on conclusive opinions & not ’nough on textual evidence or examples &, worse, is so vague in its criticisms that e’en after reading the review I have no idea what kind o’ book this e’en is. Granted, less than 50 words is way too short for an adequate review for anything worth reviewing, since it leaves no room for detail. I think, ironically, the person who wrote this review is “too-online”, as he assumes I’m familiar with whate’er Twitter bullshit he’s vaguely alluding to. Unfortunately, beyond copypasting the poems I post on this blog into Twitter with a grunt & then leaving ( which I’ve stopped bothering to do now that I’m convinced Musk will be the death o’ it ), I don’t do hardly anything on Twitter ( & I suspect hardly anyone will within the next 5 years thanks to Musk ), so I have no idea how this “Twitter-hole” ( ¿why is there a hyphen there? “Hole” is a separate word, not a suffix ), nor what “anti-science egomania” this book has or why this reviewer puts scare quotes round “mental illness”. ¿Does this reviewer who tries to imply that he’s pro-science deny the existence o’ mental illnesses — which is to ask, is this reviewer a psychology-denying crank, which is certainly not what I or any civilized human being would consider “pro-science”?

Ultimately, this review is just a bunch o’ cursing disguised as intellectualism by the use o’ vaguely-alluded implications. Being “anti-science”, an egomaniac, carping, condescending, & “too-online”, do, indeed, sound bad, but one can’t be sure if they truly are bad without understanding how they are these things & what the reviewer thinks makes this book “anti-science” or what he interprets to be an example o’ the vice o’ being “too-online”. This is a common tactic for people with unpopular opinions who want to disguise their unpopular opinions as general-held sentiments. Thus, “believes that depression is a real mental illness”, which is something with which all civilized people agree, is turned into a generally-hated dog-whistle “anti-science” much in the way rightwingers turn “treats black people humanely”, which, ’gain, all civilized people think is good, into “woke”, which sounds bad & ridiculous, e’en if most couldn’t tell you what it’s s’posed to mean.

Tier: D

So intrigued by this antireview that failed to give me any information, but, ironically, made me mo’ curious to see what kind o’ book would inspire this vague mess o’ ideas, I had to look up the book on Amazon — specifically its blurb.

In this reviewer’s defense, while I must emphasize ’gain that I have not read this book & cannot adequately review it myself, the blurb doesn’t inspire confidence in me. I can definitely say that the blurb is poorly written:

Martha Friel just turned forty. She used to work at Vogue and was going to write a novel. Now, she creates internet content for no one. She used to live in Paris. Now, she lives in a gated community in Oxford that she hates and can’t bear to leave. But she must now that her loving husband Patrick has just left.

A common vice o’ modern literature ( that is literature o’ today, not modernist literature, which is some o’ the best literature out there ) is relying on childish choppy sentences. This paragraph is particularly fragmentary, since the different sentences don’t e’en connect. Most o’ this paragraph is empty details stripped o’ any importance. “She used to work at Vogue and was going to write a novel”. Cool. ¿Who cares? E’eryone is “going to write a novel”, & writing a book ’bout a tortured “genius” middle class white person struggling to become an uppercase-A “Artist” is the most cliché & uninteresting concepts for a book. Meanwhile, bringing up that our protagonist used to live in Paris, but now lives in a gated community, which she hates, but can’t bear to leave, is some unironic 1st-world-problems & exhibit #200,000 o’ how detached from reality upper-class Americans are. That said, there’s no indication o’ “anti-science” in this book so far; & honestly, the concept o’ a book ’bout someone who “creates internet content for no one” is the least uninteresting part o’ this blurb & could be an entertaining topic for a book if done with self-effacing humor & without the bathos-inducing melodrama that this blurb is so far exhibiting.

The blurb continues:

Because there’s something wrong with Martha. There has been since a little bomb went off in her brain, at seventeen, leaving her changed in a way no doctor or drug could fix then and no one, even now, can explain—why can say she is so often sad, cruel to everyone she loves, why she finds it harder to be alive than other people.

This paragraph just insults the reader’s intelligence, pretending that hardly anyone has e’er heard o’ this concept o’ “depression” before. So far it seems like 1 o’ the 47 words o’ the previous review was right: “egomania”. This blurb tries to pass off our protagonist as the world’s only sufferer from depression, e’en tho that is far from the truth. Usually books ’bout depression are written for others with depression in a way o’ creating resonance & understanding, making them not feel ’lone; but this blurb’s use o’ alien diction to depict depression as this 1-o’-a-kind mutation o’ the protagonist does the opposite: as someone who does have depression, it turns me off, & it feels mo’ like an exotic exhibitionist performance put on to thrill people who don’t have depression — which is a gross, dehumanizing thing to do. I can’t tell, since the previous review was so vague, but maybe this was also what Donaghue meant by “condescending”: it certainly feels condescending to people with depression.

With Patrick gone, the only place Martha has left to go is her childhood home, to live with her chaotic parents, to survive without Ingrid, the sister who made their growing-up bearable, who said she would never give up on Martha, and who finally has.

Speaking o’ vague language: ¿what does it mean for Martha’s parents to be “chaotic”? ¿Is that a euphemism for “abusive”? Also, I certainly hope this Ingrid person literally abandoned Martha & didn’t “abandon” her in a metaphorical way by dying, since the protagonist would look like a selfish asshole for complaining ’bout how she suffered for someone else’s death.

It feels like the end but maybe, by going back, Martha will get to start again. Maybe there is a different story to be written, if Martha can work out where to begin.

“It feels like the end but maybe”’s missing comma is a legit grammatical error in an official blurb for a mass-published book.

I’m sure many o’ the hot-shot commercial publisher types I’ve read from would say that this is a well-written blurb, but I disagree. Then ’gain, I think their perspective is that the obnoxiously intelligence-insulting way this blurb is written is “attention-grabbing” to the masses o’ idiots in the same way jingling keys would be, whereas as someone who doesn’t find jingling keys particularly fascinating, I find it, well, obnoxiously intelligence-insulting, so this is probably why I wouldn’t make a good publisher, since my instinct is to criticize the masses for being idiots, which isn’t liable to make the masses o’ idiots want to buy my stuff, whereas the effective way to fleece them is to pat them on the back for their idiocy & indulge them.

But we haven’t gotten to the bottom o’ the swamp yet: that would be the editorial reviews.

“Sorrow and Bliss is a brilliantly faceted and extremely funny book about depression that engulfed me in the way I’m always hoping to be engulfed by novels. While I was reading it, I was making a list of all the people I wanted to send it to, until I realized that I wanted to send it to everyone I know.” — Ann Patchett

Drinking game: take a drink e’ery time we see “brilliant” or [insert adverb] funny. Enjoy that coma from alcohol poisoning.

But this review doesn’t just spew clichés, but also mangles them: ¿what does “brilliantly faceted” mean? Nobody uses that phrase. The phrase is “multifaceted”, not just “faceted”. “Faceted” by itself doesn’t mean anything in this context, & it isn’t made any mo’ meaningful by the addendum o’ an empty superlative before it.

We also have laughably exaggerated metaphors, making it sound like the reviewer has an online fetish for being “engulfed” by literature.

The most shocking thing is that this blurb was written by a real writer & the daughter o’ 1 o’ the most imaginative writers who had a very distinct voice to his writing. I guess you can’t inherit literary genius. My only hope is that Ann crapped this out in a minute for whate’er quick buck they were offering.

Tier: E

“Completely brilliant, I loved it. I think every girl and woman should read it.” — Gillian Anderson

This reviewer judges this book to be “completely brilliant”, as opposed to those which are merely partially brilliant. Then we get a comma splice, & after that redundant padding: Gillian doesn’t just think e’ery woman should read it, but also e’ery girl. ¿Why stop there? Maybe e’ery female, lady, gal, lass, miss, madame, femme, & any other synonym you could find should read it, too.

Tier: F

“An incredibly funny and devastating debut. . . . enlivened, often, by a madcap energy. Yet it still manages to be sensitive and heartfelt, and to offer a nuanced portrayal of what it means to try to make amends and change, even when that involves ‘start[ing] again from nothing.’” — The Guardian

It says something bad when a newspaper as shoddy as The Guardian provides 1 o’ the least inane review o’ the pack. There’s still plenty o’ trite, empty phrases ( “madcap energy” ) & empty, repetitive superlatives ( “sensitive & heartfelt” ), & the reviewer fails to describe this book in a way that distinguishes it from millions of other books, that could also be described as “funny & devastating”, or the many books that vaguely involve “try[ing] to make amends & change, even when that involves ‘start[ing] again from nothing’.

Tier: D

“Exploring the multifaceted hardships of mental illness and the frustrating inaccuracy of diagnoses, medications, and treatments, Sorrow and Bliss is darkly comic and deeply heartfelt . . . Martha’s voice is acerbic, witty, and raw.” — Booklist (starred review)

This is the closest a review came to having anything resembling a specific example from the book to make it stand out from any other book, the conflict o’ struggling with “inaccurate” diagnoses & medications — tho this does make me rethink my earlier interpretation o’ our 1st reviewer’s criticism o’ “anti-science” & makes me wonder if, quite the opposite, he was criticizing this book for exhibiting depression-skepticism or skepticism toward the efficacy o’ antidepressants ( I don’t feel bad for the misinterpretation, since, as I said, he refused to give a concrete example to back up their vague criticism o’ “anti-science” ).

Tier: C

“Meg Mason’s unflagging comic impulses drive this novel about the havoc a woman’s mental illness wreaks on her marriage.” — Shelf Awareness (starred review)

A common vice o’ reviews, specially editorial reviews, which are far too short to give useful information, is trading meaningful critique based on examples o’ the text with empty but poetic ( & that poetry is mo’ William McGonagall than Kobayashi Issa ) diction. If this reviewer wrote “This book ’bout a woman’s depression ruining their marriage is funny” ’twould say ’bout the same thing, but they try to hide such an empty conclusion with laughably o’erwrought purple prose as if they were describing Conan the Barbarian wrestling the ermine-orbed serpent or Moses parting the red sea with his rod aloft: this book isn’t just funny; its writer’s “unflagging comic impulses drive this novel” like a school bus.

Tier: D

“Brutal, tender, funny, this novel—a portrait of love in all of its many incarnations—came alive for me from the very first page. I saw myself here. I saw the people I love. I am changed by this book.” — Mary Beth Keane, New York Times bestselling author of Ask Again, Yes

’Nother common design pattern for automated review generation: “[adjective], [adjective], [adjective]…]. & if that wasn’t ’nough, we end 1 o’ the tritest, most ridiculous exaggerated praise e’er: claiming that the work “changed” the reviewer. Unfortunately, these works ne’er change these reviewers into people with any form o’ imagination or critical skills o’ analysis.

By the way, my favorite example o’ this silly trope is a YouTube video that claims in its thumbnail, I shit you not, that the music in Donkey Kong Country:

I mean, I love Donkey Kong Country’s music, too, but I can’t remember any philosophical epiphanies or major life decisions I’ve come to that were inspired by the bubbling melodies o’ “Hot Head Bop”.

Tier: E

“A truly comic novel about love and the despair of depression. It’s a rare and beautiful thing when an author can break your heart with humor; it’s also the quality I admire most in a writer.”  — Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, New York Times bestselling author of The Nest and Good Company

This novel is truly comic, as opposed to those fake comedic posers. This review is notable in that it makes a point specific ’nough to be outright wrong: tragicomedy is, in fact, not rare @ all, but goes all the way back to e’en The Bible, & probably earlier ancient literature, too.

Tier: D

“A quiet and achingly beautiful love story. . . . LOVED it. Masterfully written. And powerful.” — Elin Hilderbrand

More o’erwrought prose. I hate it when a book is so beautiful it gives me aches. To wrap up our bathos, we have the high superlative “masterfully written” followed by the much weaker “also, ’twas powerful, too”. “This book is genius & also pretty darn swell”.

Tier: F

“Sorrow and Bliss is hilarious, haunting, and utterly captivating. Meg Mason has created a heroine as prickly as Bernadette in Where’d You Go, Bernadette. Her humor is as arch and wise as the best work of Joan Didion and Rachel Cusk, yet completely original. What a thrilling new voice!” — Amanda Eyre Ward, New York Times bestselling author of The Jetsetters

The other cliché to add to our bingo card is comparing a work to ’nother work — tho I love how this reviewer twists 1 o’ her comparisons by addending, “yet completely original”. Yes, this completely original work that can only be described by saying it’s like other works. I’m also not sure what “arch” humor is & have a sneaking suspicion that this reviewer doesn’t know, either.

Tier: E

“Funny and tragic.” — Jojo Moyes

Give Jojo credit: this says what all the other reviews say in just 3 words.

Tier: D

“I really loved Meg Mason’s SORROW AND BLISS, which is sometimes very sad and often very funny and ultimately hopeful.” — Linda Holmes, New York Times bestselling author of Evvie Drake Starts Over, via Twitter

OK, to be fair, this 1 adds “& hopeful”, too.

Tier: E

“So dark, so funny, so true. You will see your sad, struggling, triumphant self in this deeply affecting novel. What a debut.” — Laura Zigman, author of Separation Anxiety

Calling a book “deeply affecting” is like describing my chair as “strongly sittable”: it may be true, but doesn’t mean much.

Tier: F

“A gorgeous, heart-rending book.” — Flynn Berry, New York Times bestselling author of Northern Spy


Tier: F

“SORROW AND BLISS is brilliant. A comic gem that will also break your heart.” — Julia Claiborne Johnson, author of Be Frank With Me and Better Luck Next Time

I’m surprised it took this long to encounter a review describing the work as a gem or some kind o’ jewelry.

Tier: F

“Evocative and hopeful.” — Book Riot, “5 Contemporary Literary Fiction Books That Are Game-Changers”

Generic & meaningless. That’s a great way to describe a book that is purportedly a “game-changer”. Nobody’s e’er written a book that’s evocative or hopeful till Meg Mason invented the concepts o’ evocation & hope in 2021.

Tier: F

“Sorrow and Bliss is a thing of beauty. Astute observations on marriage, motherhood, family, and mental illness are threaded through a story that is by turns devastating and restorative. Every sentence rings true. I will be telling everyone I love to read this book.” — Sara Collins, Costa First Novel Award-winning author of The Confessions of Frannie Langton

¿Why do you abuse the people you love?

Tier: E

“Sharp yet humane, and jaw-droppingly funny, this is the kind of novel you will want to press into the hands of everyone you know. Mason has an extraordinary talent for dialogue and character, and her understanding of how much poignancy a reader can take is profound. A masterclass on family, damage and the bonds of love: as soon as I finished it, I started again.” — Jessie Burton, New York Times bestselling author of The Miniaturist

“Spicy, yet sour, & nose-pickingly readable, this is the kind o’ review you will want to shove into the mouth o’ e’eryone you know. Jessie has a spectacular skill for adverbs & using commas, & her understanding o’ how much zestiness a reader can take is insightful. A Raid: Shadow Legends on drama, diction, & the love triangle o’ adjectives: as soon as I ate it, I ate it ’gain.” — J. J. W. Mezun, The Mezunian bestrepelling author o’ A Year o’ Yuppie Inanity with Mozilla’s Pocket ( An Unpublished Classic ).

Tier: D

“Patrick Melrose meets Fleabag. Brilliant.” — Clare Chambers, author of Small Pleasures

¡Irrelevancy, your honor!

Tier: F

“Examines with pitiless clarity the impact of the narrator’s mental illness on her closest relationships. . . . Mason brings the reader into a deep understanding of Martha’s experience without either condescending to her or letting her off too easily. . . . An astute depiction of life on the psychic edge.” — Kirkus Reviews

They’re not surprising, but these god damn adjectives still get me. You can’t just have regular ol’ clarity: it has to be the “pitiless” kind, like it’s a stronger palette swap in the latter half o’ Dragon Quest. Since we’ve established that the blurb a’least thinks Martha is the only person in the universe with this exotic mutation as-yet unnamed & undiscovered by all the brightest scientists, I’m doubtful o’ the “without either condescending” part. & since Martha apparently complains ’bout how agonizing it is to live in a gated community that they just can’t bear to leave, ’less Martha is given the guillotine by the proletariat by the end o’ the book, I think the author probably does let her off too easily.

Tier: D

“The book is a triumph. A brutal, hilarious, compassionate triumph.” — Alison Bell, cocreator and star of The Letdown

¿Was this review written by Lionel Fanthorpe? “This review is repetitive. A repetitive repetition that repeats & repeats & says the same thing they say ’gain & ’gain & doesn’t say anything else but that which has been said before & nothing mo’ but what was said before”.

Tier: F

“This is a romance, true, but a real one. It’s modern love up against the confusing, sad aches of mental illness, with all its highs, lows, humour and misery. Comparisons to Sally Rooney will be made, but Mason’s writing is less self-conscious than Rooney’s, and perhaps more mature. Her character work is outstanding, and poignant—the hairline fractures, contradictions and nuances of the middle-class family dynamic are painstakingly rendered with moving familiarity and black humour, resulting in a combination as devastating and sharply witty as Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag.” — Bookseller+Publisher

I’m glad that the reviewer alerted me that this book is a “real” romance, as opposed to all those fake romances that are truly ’bout martian conquerors. I always hate it when I buy a book with some sexy shirtless man on the cover & it’s just blasting cyberpneumatic cannons @ the Xythnians from Kyklocks. ¿How will my cyberpneumatic cannon shoot off then?

& they let you know that this is a modern love, involving mental illness, which didn’t exist before 2021. ¿Virginia Woolf? ¡Ne’er heard o’ her!

Despite all this, this is 1 o’ the mo’ in-depth — a’least as in-depth as any o’ these Hallmark card reviews get — reviews. Note how it makes a comparison to ’nother writer, but qualifies it by noting specific differences ( which is mo’ meaningful than just saying “but also completely original”, which is just straight-up contradictory ). Granted, it’d be better if the claims o’ being “less self-conscious” & “more mature” were qualified with examples & elaboration, since we’re still taking the reviewer on their word & they’re still relying heavily on vague superlatives. & the rest also devolves into a list o’ superlatives, with the hint that it this book s’posedly goes into greater depth into the complications o’ middle-class families than some unnamed general standard being the closest to what we might call actually giving meaningful information. Still, based on our now subterranean standards this is up on the higher tiers.

Tier: B

“Improbably charming . . . will have you chortling and reading lines aloud.” — People

( Laughs ). E’en the reviewers are vague: we don’t e’en get a specific person cited for this review, but some vague “people”. This gives a new perspective to the phrase “¡The people have spoken!”.

I like how “People” starts by laying out their expectations that this book would be shitty, setting up the gravel-level standards this book apparently surpassed. Presumably, these low standards were based on reading the blurb.

This review carries out the impressive feat o’ being both vague & clearly wrong: it libels me by claiming that I will “chortle” — ’cause our failed poet reviewer can’t use a basic word like “laugh” — & read lines ’loud, which I would ne’er do for e’en the funniest book, simply ’cause reading lines ’loud while laughing noisily in public is something only a peak douche bag would do, & reading lines ’loud & laughing to yourself while ’lone is something e’en a deranged lunatic like me would consider too bedlamite.

Tier: F

Below these reviews my eye caught the author bio, &, well…

Meg Mason is a journalist whose career began at the Financial Times and the Times of London. Her work has since appeared in Vogue, Elle, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Sunday Times (UK), and the New Yorker’s Daily Shouts. Born in New Zealand, she now lives in Sydney, Australia, with her husband and two daughters. [emphasis mine]

So we can confirm that Sorrow & Bliss: A Work o’ Literature Comprising Abstract Latin Letters that Combine to Form Abstract Concepts Physically Bound in the Form o’ a Codex is an author self-insert book so transparent that the author couldn’t e’en be arsed to change the name o’ the magazine they worked for to 1 o’ its carbon-copy competitors.

Bonus: Mo’ Bad Reviews

Our 1st reviewer, Steve Donaghue, also wrote a list o’ worst 2021 nonfiction books, & it starts pretty funny:

10 The Chief’s Chief by Mark Meadows (All Seasons Press) – On January 6, 2021, President Donald Trump incited a violent insurrection to attack the US Capitol, overthrow the US government, and install himself as an unelected dictator. Mark Meadows publicly endorsed this attempted coup. Shame on All Seasons Press for giving him a book contract.

Kind o’ low-hanging fruit for a worst-book choice, — specially since the rightwing grift machine pumps out these doorstops e’ery year — but I can’t disagree, & it’s only #10. ¿What’s next?

Tier: B

9 The Tyranny of Big Tech by Josh Hawley (Regnery Publishing) On January 6, 2021, President Donald Trump incited a violent insurrection to attack the US Capitol, overthrow the US government, and install himself as an unelected dictator. Josh Hawley publicly endorsed this attempted coup. Shame on Regnery Publishing for giving him a book contract.

I mean, I can’t disagree…

Tier: B

Unfortunately, Donaghue gives ’way the game when he makes a mistake copy-pasting the review for the Peter Navarro book & using for the Jim Jordan book, as he blames Peter Navarro ’gain. Or maybe he just really hates Peter Navarro & decides he wants to blame him a 2nd time just to be sure.

Some o’ the other items are weirder, tho…

6 The Authoritarian Moment: How the Left Weaponized America’s Institutions Against Dissent by Ben Shapiro (Broadside Books) – Very smart and very lazy Ben Shapiro takes a legitimate social issue – the rise of the authoritarian Left – and lavishes pan-shallow unoriginal platitudes on them while cloaking the whole mess in the fascists talking points of the very monsters who consider him a useful idiot.

1 o’ the great thing ’bout using these vague superlatives or invectives is that I have to play guessing games regarding what the person is trying to e’en say. Now, from Ben Shapiro that’s no surprise, since like most fascists he deliberately communicates in shibboleths to disguise bigotry as profound, complex thought. But Donaghue, who portrays himself as vaguely antifascist & spent half his reviews criticizing what many fascists considered to be a feather in their cap, seems to have different goals. One may expect him to be o’ the Enlightened Centrist™ tribe who feels the need to balance out their outrage @ a Republican attempt to outright o’erthrow the US government by manufacturing an imaginary leftist equivalent. Perhaps he portrays the “Black Lives Matter” riots as the equivalent, despite the fact that these riots presented no threat to the US government beyond being an international embarrassment — & if that’s the case, then we’d have to consider nearly e’ery American who vacations to other countries as an equal evil to the Trump Putsch. ¿But, anyway, would e’en an Enlightened Centrist™ consider Shapiro to be “very smart and very lazy”? I’m hoping Donaghue takes his brilliant “rap isn’t music ’cause my daddy told me it isn’t” & the way he embarrassed himself in front o’ a BBC conservative by being too crazy e’en for him — which adds him to the list o’ Americans who are an international embarrassment — as examples o’ him just being too lazy to unleash that intelligence that he’s keeping very well hidden.

It’s not that I’m in denial that there exists an authoritarian left; but when I think o’ “authoritarian left”, I think o’ Leninists, & I don’t see any big Leninist movement on the verge o’ seizing the US capitol & setting up the American Neobolshevik Communist Party as the dictatorship o’ the proletariat, no matter how many jokes ’bout guillotines I make. As we’ve established here before, we can’t e’en get Biden to do something as symbolic as raising his fist & shouting, “¡Down with the bourgeoisie!”, while still doing their bidding, no matter how funny ’twould be. Maybe Donaghue took some downers & fell asleep while watching a Russian Civil War documentary just after US news & mixed them up in his mind. It happens to me sometimes, too. But given some o’ the other things he’s written, I get the sneaking suspicion his idea o’ “authoritarian left” is just some irrelevant few randos on Twitter calling him a racist ’cause he refused to capitalize the B in “black people” — which is to say that he is “too-online” & needs to stop spending so much time on Twitter & mistaking the idiots on it as relevant to greater society.

Complaining ’bout the “rise” o’ the authoritarian left also really undermines Donaghue’s attacks gainst Trump as a fascist — a clear rightwing authoritarian. ¿Is it reasonable for him to be alarmed that the left should become authoritarian as a counterbalance to the right’s growing authoritarianism, or is Donaghue 1 o’ the many delusional Americans who thinks reality spawns from dreams & wishes & not power & that sternly protesting people willing to use violence & underhanded tactics will magically make these tyrant-wannabes no longer a threat? After all, when fascism rose as a threat in Europe, the allied powers acted in many ways that almost anyone would consider “authoritarian” — far worse than a few randos calling other randos racist for not spelling “latinos” “l@t!n%”, like any progressive L33tspeaker should. ¿Would not Donaghue consider FDR, who interned Japanese Americans & heavily censored newspapers, radio, & e’en letters, an example o’ the “authoritarian left”? ¿Would he say the same ’bout Winston Churchill, who also censored media while the UK was fighting fascists? Also, ¿didn’t Donaghue outright call for publishers to refuse to publish works by Trump supporters? ¿Isn’t that censorship, & thus “authoritarianism” — a far greater form o’ authoritarianism than calling other people bad names, which, in fact, is not authoritarianism, but merely using one’s freedom-o’-speech rights to express their opinion of others? It seems reasonable that in an America where violence gainst minorities is on the rise that jokes ’bout black people go from being harmless edgy comedy to a means to recruiting mo’ fascists, & that it’s a reasonable reaction by the left to feel added urgency to employ whate’er means don’t full-on violate freedom o’ speech, or e’en defacto suppression o’ speech thru economic means, to try & stifle & undermine this tactic, which, ultimately, is for the goal o’ subverting e’en the pseudodemocracy that the US has. But I guess it’s mo’ important that Donaghue ne’er has to fear being called a racist, which is literally lethal to white people, than it is for white people to endure the slightest inconvenience to prevent fascism from coming to power. Expressing one’s disdain for fascism is all one needs to do to make it topple @ its foundation in the fantasyland o’ people who live purely in the world o’ books & not political reality.

But it gets worse…

5 Nice Racism: How Progressive White People Perpetuate Racial Harm by Robin DiAngelo (Beacon Press) – I wouldn’t have thought it possible that the author of White Fragility could write a book more virulently racist in just one lifetime, but this noxious volume – in which she makes clear that all white people are racist genetically, regardless of upbringing, education, or outlook (Klan members will find such claims familiar-sounding, only in a slightly different context) – does the trick.

This review devolves into outright malicious lying, & one can easily see this simply by reviewing the Amazon blurb:

In White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo explained how racism is a system into which all white people are socialized and challenged the belief that racism is a simple matter of good people versus bad. [emphasis mine]

Dr. DiAngelo — who is a white person, & so can shit-talk crackers just as much as I can, just like black people can use the N-word — nowhere blames genetics for racism, but white people’s social conditioning. This makes sense when you consider that Dr. DiAngelo is a sociologist, not a biologist. Mo’ importantly, she distinguishes it from the bitter hatred o’, say, a Klansman, as a different kind o’ racism caused by an unintentional harm caused by ignorance. It is Donaghue who decides to be triggered by being called a well-meaning accidental racist, as if this “offense” is anywhere close to the kind o’ spiteful, actually threatening speech that hardcore racist white people spew ( ¿does DiAngelo recommend harassing white people with depression & urging them to kill themselves in her book, which is what white supremacist groups like Stormfront actually did to people after Trump won the election? ), & rather than do what a smart person with any dignity would do & just shrug it off & say, “¿What are you gonna do?”, he stupidly gives in to the bait & reacts in the most extreme, idiotic way possible, literally reacting to the accusation o’ being racist with the schoolyard comeback, “¡No, you are! ¡In fact, you’re such a superultramega racist that you’re just like those Klansmen who murdered & intimidated black people for decades… ’cept, you know, you haven’t actually murdered anyone or intimated anyone or have done anything but make a few white people feel a li’l queasy”. It shows an amazing lack o’ self-awareness that a white person would unironically attack without e’en the slightest sense o’ humor a book called “White Fragility”. “¡Can you believe these bullies called me a whiny bitch!”, he whinily bitched. I would venture to argue that the idiocy that Donaghue portrays here is mo’ racist gainst white people like me since it does far mo’ damage to our reputation than some guilt-fetishing honkey, whose worst crime is actually probably annoying black people with her constant Jesus-like faux-humility, as if constant apologies & longwinded treatises on made-up jargon acronyms like BIPOC help black people with real problems, like being shot by white supremacist police or poverty — albeit, none o’ which are on the same level o’ enormity as people on Twitter calling Donaghue mean words.

Donaghue could’ve gotten sympathy by merely calling this book dumb & useless; but portraying it as an extreme form o’ racism comparable to Klan lynchings is a ridiculous form o’ both-sidesism that helps the very fascists he pretends to be fighting gainst. Trying to conflate minor misdemeanors gainst white people as equal to the worst acts o’ racist terror gainst black people is the precise tactic that fascists use to justify white supremacist terror as “defense” gainst “the authoritarian left”.

Anyway, this review o’ reviews has gone on way too long. Get the fuck out o’ my house so I can take my pants off.

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Posted in Literature Commentary, Politics, Reviewing Reviews, Yuppy Tripe