Ben Oliver

Better Living through Criticism

30 May 2018

New York Times film critic A. O. Scott explains, defends and discusses the oft-maligned practice of criticism in its various forms.

It’s hard to write about a book that is about writing about books, but there are some oddities in this one that I wasn’t expecting. Scott swings between conventional essays about the various aspects of his subject to strange ‘Q & A’ sessions with the reader.

It’s like someone told him the manuscript was too dry and high-brow so they got a blogger to throw in a few chapters to spice it up. It’s clear where his sensibilities lie though; the book is at its best when he’s discussing Picasso and Larkin rather than trying to crowbar in stuff about hip hop.

This is a pretty comprehensive look at what is possibly a dying line of work, at least in conventional formats. As someone who aimlessly reviews stuff on the internet it was interesting reading, it’s hard to imagine this being the case for anyone else.