Michiko Kakutani’s Voluminous Stream of Bile
Everyone has an opinion about her. Anyone can do a passing imitation of her. Everyone loves saying her trochaic trimeteric name. It’s practically become an American sport for literary journalists (i.e., people who write about books) to take New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani, roll her up into a ball, and shoot baskets with her. And she totally deserves it. Among people who write about books, no individual has more influence than she does, no one is more enamored of her own opinion, and no one is quite as polar. Your book is the best thing since Shakespeare, or your book is not worth the ink it’s printed inówith Kakutani, there’s not much in between. She’s pretty simple that way. She’s infuriating.
The one shooting hoops with her this time is Ben Yagoda, who writes in an aside: Kakutani “has justly been called out for her near-obsessive use of ‘lugubrious’ and ‘limn,’ words that probably have never been said aloud in the history of English,” which is funny, and echoes something I wrote praising Jonathan Safran Foerówhile bashing Kakutaniólast year. I counted the number of times Kakutani has used the the word “limn” since she started at the New York Times. (Although, later in that piece, I now notice, I use the word “lugubrious.” I’d argue that “lugubrious” is used a lot more than “limn” in conversation… But whatever. Could be wrong. Sigh.)
Since I’m on the subjectówill my computer explode if I link to Seattle Weekly’s website?óhere’s a review of the reviews of Zadie Smith’s second novel that I wrote years ago, which includes some Kakutani bashing as well. Enjoy.