Shorter <em>New York Times Book Review</em>

Reading it so you don’t have to …..

Laura Miller thinks I’m OK – You’re OK and Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships, which were on 85% of the bookshelves in California in the 1970s, were “brainy and challenging … by contemporary standards.” (Relevance? The former is being reissued in paperback next month.)

Stephen King is no JRR Tolkien.

David Leavitt thinks that Patricia Highsmith’s final novel (published in Britain in 1995 but not in the States until now) is “pedestrian at best, ungainly at worst.” Funny, you could say much the same about almost everything Leavitt’s written since Family Dancing.

David Fromkin isn’t sure that John Keegan’s book about the invasion of Iraq is on the pulse of history, what with all of those bothersome questions about the “link” between Saddam Hussein and al Qaida and all.

Dick Morris thinks that the Clintons are the embodiment of evil, but he apparently wouldn’t mind a job in Hillary’s administration if she gets elected in 2008.

Helen Fielding’s written a boring new novel about a style reporter who becomes a spy after falling in love with a man who resembles Osama bin Laden and woos her with Cristal.

Charles Taylor is offended that the writer of the new book about Philip K. Dick seems to never have heard of Norman Mailer’s Armies of the Night or anything by Tom Wolfe.

David Sedaris’s outsized celebrity has left him with nothing to do but cannibalize himself and ponder the fact that his life story has been optioned by an unnamed Hollywood director.

One of the writers of “This Is Spinal Tap” tears Andrew Sullivan a new one for referring to one of the actors in the film as one of its “architects.”

The editor of Kyle Smith’s Love Monkey writes a letter insisting that the book is selling way better than the Book Review claims it is.

And: a review of a new Colm Tóibín novel about Henry James by Daniel Mendelsohn, who has got to be the Book Review’s single most florid and (unexplainably) poorly edited writer.

One sentence in the review has 109 words, a historically inaccurate appositive phrase enclosed in parentheses, and a subordinate clause nested in em-dashes between an uncharacteristically declarative independent clause and what must be the longest, clumsiest, and most turgid coordinated independent clause written since Henry James kicked the bucket.

The sentence also includes the graceless and anachronistic “Atlantic-hopping young manhood,” which is supposed to sound slick but actually sounds vaguely sleazy and would probably make James politely excuse himself from the room to puke.

As to what this convoluted sentence is trying to say, your guess is as good as mine. Mendelsohn manages to consistently and unabashedly violate Strunk and White’s Style Reminder Number 6:

Do not overwrite. Rich, ornate prose is hard to digest, generally unwholesome, and sometimes nauseating.