Remember that book I loved, Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier? Well, yesterday, I was reading one of Orson Scott Card's "Uncle Orson Reviews Everything" columns, and Cold Mountain earned a passing mention on account of having recently been named to Entertainment Weekly's "New Classics" list. What did the famous Mormon science fiction writer have to say about the book that has probably made it on to my all-time favorites list? Well, read for yourself:
"And they [the EW book review people] showed how easily they're fooled by pretentious tricks (yes, I know that this is right after I criticized the So You Think You Can Dance judges for using that term - but I'm right, and they weren't). Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain is an incoherent mess of a story - but it touches all the right politically correct buttons, and it's told so awkwardly that it has to be art."
Wow. I read that and felt like I'd been punched in the stomach. Did we read the same book? Did I miss something everybody else caught? Incoherent mess of a story? Politically correct buttons? Told so awkwardly that it has to be art???
But why does it even matter to me what Orson Scott Card thinks about a book we both happen to have read? Because, my friends, OSC is one of those reviewers whose opinions I generally respect - especially when he's talking about homework, Mormons watching R-rated movies, and sidewalks, or the lack thereof (but not movies or politics, sorry). I've even generally agreed with his opinions on books, until yesterday. And now it's like a little part of me has died because if we disagree so fundamentally on Cold Mountain, how can I still maintain a reviewer/review-reader relationship with him? Differences of opinion are easier to explain away when the reviewer loves something and the reader didn't really care for it. But the other way around hints at deeper differences that are not so easily resolved.
For movie reviews, in case you're wondering, I depend on Eric D. Snider (a trait I share with Stephenie Meyer, by the way). I used to agree with Roger Ebert all the time, but then one of us went off the deep end, and I think it was the person who gave She's the Man three stars.
Does anyone else have pet reviewers whose opinions they generally agree with? Have you ever had to break up with any of them, as I did with Roger Ebert?
We'll see if OSC and I make it out of this Cold Mountain snafu unscathed. I'll be sure to let you know if there are any further developments.