Archive for October, 2010

Hear, hear

Posted in Uncategorized on October 21, 2010 by jkiparsky

From a recent letter to the times, by Graham King:

“…the filtering of information to conform to my tastes and interests… can lead to an unwanted and undesirable condition. The term for this is ‘ignorance’.”


The Task Of This Translator (Todd Hasak-Lowy)

Posted in Uncategorized on October 17, 2010 by jkiparsky

The Task of The Translator (Todd Hasak-Lowy)

A collection of stories. Not only bad, but so bad I read the whole collection, every godawful word of it, trying to find some redeeming feature. Divil a one to be found, though. Every one of the misbegotten things is a hellhole of its own, and each is worse than all the others in its own special way. Special mention goes to “The End of Larry’s Wallet” which combines multiple species of awfulness with the unfulfilled hope that there might be a a point to the whole thing – that hope is dashed, of course, and in its place we get a totally gratuitous character introduced, or rather placed on the stage, apparently for the sole purpose of killing himself. The whole thing is a dire wreckage of a thing, completely as useless as a story can get, and full of pointless authorial interjections that are apparently meant to make the story deep, but end up cranking one’s hatred of Hasak-Lowy up to a fever pitch.
If the purpose of literature is to move one to strong emotion (a questionable premise), then H-L has made literature than serves that purpose. The emotion produced is a thorough-going loathing of the author, so complete that it extends to the entire faculty of the University of Florida at Gainesville, who should have seen this coming and prevented it, by force if necessary. This is a truly terrible collection of truly awful stories by a man whose writing shames the conscience of the English language and whose plotting shows the attention span of one of an exceptionally spastic three year old. His characterization suggests to me that he scores somewhere close to the red line on the autism scale, and his dialog is so tone deaf and so grating that it suggests he’s been listening to real people talk.
The least bad of these efforts is the title story. H-L demonstrates that he doesn’t quite understand the difference between generality and profundity, and his grasp of humor only goes as far as mocking stuff he doesn’t understand, which is almost everything, but this story might have worked if he’d had an actual language in mind, or some grasp of how languages work. That might have given this story – stolen, incidentally, from a Christopher Durang play, which is probably why it made it up to “least bad” – some actual humor. As it is the jokes are cheap and empty. As, apparently, is Todd Hasak-Lowy.
Being a glass-half-full type of person, I try to look for the best in everything, and here’s what I found in this case: I have no children, so I don’t have to lie awake nights worrying that they might end up going to the University of Florida at Gainesville and having to take a class with this yutz. And that’s the best thing I can think of, having read these stories. If you choose to inflict them on yourself, you can’t say you weren’t warned.