Sunday, October 16, 2005


Quitting The Quitter

You know you're in for interesting times today at The Onion A.V. Club blog as soon as you see the headline: Why We Won't Be Reviewing The Quitter.

In it, reviewer Noel Murrary writes:
The three people on The A.V. Club staff who regularly read and review comics--that would be myself, Tasha Robinson and Keith Phipps--are all, naturally, Harvey Pekar fans. As such, we couldn’t be happier about the recent success that Pekar’s had.... [But] both Tasha and I were so stunned by the mediocrity of Pekar’s much-hyped new graphic memoir The Quitter that we decided not to review it.... the book is too long, too unfocused, and it ends the same way all of Pekar’s stories do these days, with the author bitching about his bank account. Plus, there are a handful of panels where the first-person captions directly repeat information from earlier in the book....

Anyway, Tasha and I saw no reason to put down one of our heroes in a permanent, archived way. The only reason I bring up the book here in blog form is that I’ve been reading a lot of rave reviews for The Quitter.... Pekar’s responsible for some of the best comics in the history of the medium. Don’t quit on him because of The Quitter.

To which I can only say: hooray for The Onion.

Choosing books for review is essentially a zero-sum game. There are only so many article assignments and column inches to work with. If you choose a book to review -- an inferior book, a book that you personally would not want someone to read -- then you are necessarily pushing aside another and possibly more worthy book. You may even be pushing aside some newly reissued other and better book by the same author.

Which is not to say that there are not some books that deserve pummeling in public. It is easy to see the usefulness of debate over a tangibly harmful book -- Crichton's global-warming novel, say. But beyond that... I'm not as sure. Sometimes the best thing to do, when presented with mediocre work, is indeed to throw it aside and move on to something else.

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