Hatchet Job of the Day
Reviewers are often loath to lambast first time authors especially if they’ve set themselves as enormous a task as chronicling the school days of a latter day Messiah. It’s never really fair to give someone a kicking when they haven’t even taken off. However Adam Levin didn’t do himself any favours when he gave reviewers THE INSTRUCTIONS, a thousand pages of words loosely modelled on the Talmud, to read. Some blamed his editors – McSweeney’s (David Egger’s special project) – but most just blamed him. Philip Hensher in The Times had three wise pieces of advice. We thought the second particularly instructive:
Second, anyone could have told Levin that a novel about a possible Messiah is, essentially, about a phenomenon where the interest is always going to be in the responses of a society to that phenomenon. It was a mistake to let the phenomenon narrate the action, like reading a novel about Pompeii narrated by the volcano.
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