Sunday, August 07, 2005

Savaged

Bert Archer of the Toronto Star has this to say about my funnybook, Asthmatica, and David McGimpsey's funnybook, Certifiable:

"The most charitable approach to these books would, I think, be to ignore [the veteran status of the authors] and pretend that we've stumbled on the manuscripts two undergrads have constructed out of the stories they tell their buddies."

I'll spare you the rest of the review. It's mean-spirited stuff. It's the typical, "it may be funny, but that's not enough. It has to be 'grown-up' too" crap.

I hate it when people who have no authority to speak of the art of comedy decide to review comedy books. Being funny is hard work, but to Bert Archer, it's not serious work and therefore not of value. This is how snobbery works.

I know my book is juvenile -- it's about an immature kid named Jonny who gets into funny situations. It's light reading. And it's for young people. Also, I've read Dave's book and it's funny. That seems to be its mandate. And what pisses me off is that Bert "Canada's most beloved comedy scholar" Archer is judging these books for what they represent socially, not aesthetically. He is too much of a snob to judge these comedy books on how well they deliver jokes.

I'm reviewing a very good novel right now for the Gazette. It's a 'serious' novel with very heavy subject matter. One thing I will be sure not to do is to complain that the book is lacking in punchlines.

Oh! And they spelled the title of my book incorrectly! Thanks, Toronto Star!!!

22 comments:

Jonathan Ball said...

try not to take it personally jon. that's just what happens to writers when they take leave of their boxes for a moment. & of course because you are Canadian you must be serious. or dry. or you are not really an "author" & in Canada we only like "authors" not "writers."

Jonathan Ball said...

ps -- what else can you expect from toronto?

dfb said...

JPF – i haven’t seen the review – but i will try look at it – my questions is this. you say “I hate it when people who have no authority to speak of the art of comedy decide to review comedy books.” i wonder what do you mean by that – or i guess who do you mean by that.

my reason in asking is in our last e-mail exchanged you suggested the same sentiment - so it’s serious question

love
dfb

asthma_boy said...

i mean that comedy is an easy target and often those with the arrows have no clue how it works. when the Globe had Mark McKinney (from Kids in the Hall) review the last David Sedaris book, i thought, good! someone who knows how to write a joke is going to review this humour book. that doesn't happen enough.

Razovsky said...

Bert's a buffoon. I've been panned by him too, and it only increases interest in the book. At the Toronto Small Press Book Fair, I've used the sign "Panned by Bert Archer!" and it's sold copies.

asthma_boy said...

thanks, stu. i needed that.

dfb said...

ok – but are you suggesting that the only people who can be critics need to first be capable of producing the same type of work - before they can talk about yours – cuz that’s kind of a slippy slope. my book was reviewed (well or not well – i’m a little unsure) by a novelist.

sure i’d have liked a writer of 21st century post language writing to review it – but i don’t think they are talking to me right now. anyhow while i’m not a fan of B Archer (so much like B Arthur don’t you think) – i read the review and all he said was he didn’t think it was funny.

and frankly i don’t think there is an easier target than poetry. that’s all i’ve got to say.

see you in funnies
dfb

asthma_boy said...

daniel, i think you're right.

but all i want out of a reviewer is a basic knowledge of comedy and comedic tradition. they don't have to write the stuff. i think most reviewers of post-avant poets suffer from a lack of knowledge of the traditions of innovative poetry. this is a huge problem.

Brenda Schmidt said...

Please pardon the wording, but what would constitute an adequate knowledge of the traditions of innovative poetry?

asthma_boy said...

hi brenda,

something like reading and appreciating experimental work. knowing its tradition, having a critical knowledge of Apollinaire, Stein, Olson, Creeley, Nichol, McCaffery, and many, many more.

I think there are alot of poetry reviewers who either don't know a thing about these traditions or hate them based on some sort of perverse allegiance to traditionalist work. these reviewers are not suitable to speak with any kind of authority on the subject of post-avant or innovative poetry. of course, they will anyway.

i feel the same about a reverse situation. there's no point in reviewing a new collection of sonnets if you've never read Shakespeare or Petrarch....

Daniel Sendecki said...

Don't forget the Delaunays and Blaise Cendrars! Of course, I know your not compsing an anthology here, JPF! I just like saying Blaise Cendrars every chance I get.

Daniel Sendecki said...

Bert Archer has been taken to task a number of times. A quick look at the letters to the editor at Eye will cheer you up.

Brenda Schmidt said...

Thanks for that, Jon.
Thanks, Daniel.

i love you said...

O you alpha male, Jon!

We had a "comedian" pan our literary tour of The Annex last month in NOW -- she didn't think it was very funny. Maybe we should have switched reviewers with you and David?

The book is hilarious, of course. Don't you listen to that Bert Archer.

Love,
Sharon

asthma_boy said...

thanks, sharon!

i'm almost over it. almost. i found out some HILARIOUS things about bert archer that helped ease the pain.

jon

Daniel Sendecki said...

Dude, you've got to back channel me some gossip.

Jonathan Ball said...

oh no, it's the attack of the blog-spammers!! i hate these things.

asthma_boy said...

that's not a nice thing to say about daniel. just kidding, blogspam removed.

hardyf said...

critics are too critical

asthma_boy said...

some posters are too postal

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