Book Reviews

Another snippet from Richard O’Connor’s 1967 biography of Ambrose Bierce:

“The book-reviewing end of his chores, predictably, loosed [Bierce’s] most savage energies… He once composed what may be the shortest, nastiest book review on the record by listing its title, author and publisher and adding the one-line comment, ‘The covers of this book are too far apart’.

“Occasionally, like an eagle swooping down on the carrion-littered plains of literature, he would quote one paragraph of a current novel as an example of hopelessly bad writing. Such as : ‘She remained inactive in his embrace for a considerable period, then modestly disengaging herself looked him full in the countenance and signified a desire for self-communion. By love’s instinct he divined her purpose – she wanted to consider his proposal apart from the influence of the glamour of his personal presence. With the innate tact of a truly genteel nature he bade her good evening in French, and with measured tread paced away into the gathering gloom’.”

Alas, we are not told the titles of the two books under review.

One thought on “Book Reviews

  1. When I remarked on Bierce’s economy of phrase to Mr Key, he was reminded of another review he once read, published in the NME in the 1970s. He thinks it was by Charles Shaar Murray. A review of the latest album by prog-rock icons Yes, the entire review read simply: ‘No’.

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