Category Archives: Literature

Jennifer Rubin Is A Rubbishy Writer

Bush, Conservatism, English, Literature, Neoconservatism, The Establishment

This New York Review of Books reviewer suggests that the tedious neoconservative, Jennifer Rubin, made prominent for her banality, is reminiscent of the late Molly Ivins, who was an old-school, acerbic, liberal columnist.

Rubbish.

Ivins coined memorable monikers for George Bush such as “Shrub” and “Dubya.”

Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol was a neoconservative writer, organizer, and theorist for a quarter-century, at the barricades on controversies from health care reform to the Iraq War (he was also the most important promoter of Sarah Palin, who embodied Trumpism before Trump became Trump). Now he regularly issues withering tweets about Trump and is a fixture on the liberal-leaning MSNBC. The foreign policy writer Max Boot was a vocal and at times strident champion of the Bush Doctrine. These days he’s a ferocious and shrewd critic of the president. Washington Post blogger-columnist Jennifer Rubin was, among prominent conservative pundits, probably Mitt Romney’s most aggressive defender in 2012 and aside from that was known for her hard-line foreign policy views, particularly on matters relating to Israel. Now, her columns often read as if they could have been written by the late Molly Ivins. (Two recent Rubin headlines: “Trump Retreats on Iran, and He Will Need to Do So Again”; “The Enablers of the Racist President Are Back at It.”)

David Frum is also a much better writer than Israel Firster, Ms. Rubin.

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George Orwell’s “1984” And The “Must Topple” List

America, Communism, Free Speech, History, Left-Liberalism, Literature, States' Rights

FROM George Orwell’s “1984”: “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street and building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And that process is continuing day-by-day and minute-by-minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”

Must topple” is courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.

UPDATE (8/27): Rod Dreher’s Dreadful Writing At The American Conservative

Conservatism, English, Literature, States' Rights

How many first-person references can you count in this Rod Dreher bit of tedium? “I think.” “I believe.” “I’m not.” “Call me sentimental.” “My grandmother …”

Opinion differs about how often to use the first person pronoun in various genres of writing. But its overuse in opinion writing is a cardinal sin.

You may abuse “I” when the passive-form alternative is too clumsy. Or, when the writer has earned the right to, because of his relevance to the story. (There is no good reason for Dreher to insert himself in practically every other sentence here.)

To get a sense of how bad someone’s writing is count the number of times he deploys the Imperial “I” on the page. Dreher is very bad indeed. He is like a dripping tap. Half of this diarrhetic post could have been cut.

A good editor would have removed superfluous phrases like, “It’s strange, actually.” There are many like it: the aforementioned “call me sentimental” and “It seems to me.”

The American Conservative’s attitude to editing is decidedly un-conservative.

There are some redeeming observations in “Duty, Dishonor, & The South,” but they’re lost in the wishy-washy meandering narrative of a poor writer.

UPDATE (8/27): Noonan is bad (always has been), but not as awful as Dreher. She’s effective in her messy emotionalism. He’s not.

UPDATED (1/2/019): Meir Shalev: Easily One Of The Greatest Novelists

English, Human Accomplishment, Intelligence, Israel, Literature, Pop-Culture

I’ve been reading two classic novels by Meir Shalev in Hebrew, in the hope of reviving my extant but waning Hebrew reading skills.

The one completed some time ago was Roman Rusi (“A Russian Novel,” translated), which was changed to The Blue Mountain. A lot hangs on the translation, naturally, but having read “Roman Rusi” (aka “The Blue Mountain“) both in English and Hebrew, I can say Hillel Halkin’s translation of that book was superb.

Shalev, for the richness of his descriptions and the depth of the depictions and characters (down to the animals), is up there with the greatest writers. Nabokov of the Israelis? Maybe, but Shalev doesn’t have Nabokov’s prurient preoccupied with decadence.

Even finer than “The Blue Mountain” is “As A Few Days,” which is currently tearing at my heart. Read it (and my non-fiction books, of course). It also goes by the title “Four Meals” or “The Loves of Judith.”

UPDATED (1/2/019):

Amos Oz was not a good writer, Tom Segev. He had nothing on Agnon, of whom he was madly jealous, or on Meir Shalev, a literary giant. I recently completed Oz’ latest door-stopper in Hebrew: undisciplined, cumbersome, narcissistic. Absolutely no literary finesse.

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