A REVIEWER WHO SHRINKS FROM READING MOST NOVELS. Michael Dirda of the Washington Post, who has been reviewing books professionally for over 35 years, has an essay in the TLS (March 28) which acknowledges that there are a number of novels which he shrinks from reviewing. They are novels which he knows will be well written, but which contain traumatic scenes which will haunt him for a long time. He prefers reading novels with cardboard characters (he gives the example of P.G. Wodehouse). He avoids sad movies (he gives the example of Brief Encounter). He would rather reread serious novels than read them for the first time. He says: “Novels and stories are basically trying to shoot bullets into your heart.” I was reminded of my brother Elmer’s definition of a short story (which I posted on here): “a short piece of fiction in which a character’s life is ruined.”

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