Dear John, Having not read Norm Rush’s book I don’t know how on target the New York Times review is, but what I do know and have learned over the years is that Michiko Kakutani is a very unreliable reviewer. She lauds books that
are totally middle-brow and then savages others that are may be flawed in certain ways, but mostly flawed because the author is reaching for a difficult effect. She also tends to overpraise an author early in his or her career and demolish him or her if she feels they’ve failed her in some way. And I use the reference to “her” advisedly. It seems to be a deeply personal thing with her. I’ve heard she used to be a groupy following, I think, Paul Simon, in her younger days. I feel she still has a groupy mentality of intense love and then intense hate is she gets disappointed. And one small anecdote. I buy my clothes in a small store on Columbus Avenue run by Korean women. One day I was shopping for outfits for a book tour. The owner was helping me and asked me if I knew Michiko. I said, no, I only know of her. She said that Michiko bought all of her clothes there and then she said, “Oh Michiko, she have the worst taste. She think she knows about style, but she has just the worst taste.”
See, Michiko, don’t mess with RPCV writers…we are everywhere!