Joe Queenan

Before reading this review by Joe Queenan in the New York Times I wasn’t familiar with him – or his feud with author A.J. Jacobs – or his reputation for being as wikipedia says, “mean-spirited and gratuitous.” According to Josh Karp of Salon, reviewing the book Red Lobster, White Trash, Blue Lagoon, Queenan is a “well-paid bastard,” and not to be outdone, Queenan calls himself a “full-time son of a bitch.”  Nevertheless, this review in the Sunday NY Times “had me at hello.”

I’ll have to do more research to really gauge how shameful I should feel about really liking this review – the writing style, the biting just-get-to-the chase criticisms, and the way each piece is dissected (with evidence given) and the author of the book’s own style appropriated for Queenan’s critique.

Check it out: 

For more on Queenan:

What I appreciate about this Queenan interview is that he points out that all the Rocky films were “racist fantasies.” Check. That many baby boomers believe that they ended racism – not sure I go all the way in on that, but I do notice, especially now that we’re about to elect Obama that there’s an assumption that somehow racism is over. 

I like that Queenan is unapologetically himself. Standing firm on his convictions, without any apologies, nothing nice, diplomatic or flowery. It is almost nearly the complete opposite of what I do when I write. I often take the fuzzy middle ground, taking pains to try to balance good and bad critique. To me, that’s being intellectually honest, as Queenan calls it, because I am trying to be as objective as possible. Perhaps that’s not the job of the social critic or reviewer. Queenan shows me that sometimes you just have to let it rip.

So as practice, I think I’ll take a book I read or trend I’ve noticed recently, and write an absolutely true to my opinion, without any attempt to be objective, review. Twiddling thumbs….what shall I choose….I’m thinking:

1. Mary by Janis Cooke Newman

2. I think I may have done this already with Golden Road

3. Hipsters

4. The blog and now recently released book Stuff White People Like

5. Neo-Black TripSoul Hipsters with a love of social justice and the spotlight — ooh topic may be found….


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