On the Backfires of Rave Reviews, ala Tom Rachman's "The Imperfectionists"

Why is it that the giddiest rave reviews often somehow make their books sound suspect? I note this just having read Christopher Buckley’s rave of Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists in todays NY Times.

The book does sound fun, but the reviewer’s exuberance, plus the waggish character names and plotlines, make me suspicious. A good example of this odd phenomenon—the literary equivalent of “She’s got a great personality!”—occurred last fall, when Jonathan Lethem reviewed Lorrie Moore’s new novel, A Gate at the Stairs, raving madly, the best novel ever written! (In contrast, a good friend of mine who read the book said, “It sucks.” I haven’t read it yet, but the hardback is here on my desk, and is next up in line.)

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