by Andrew Blackman
- There was a wonderful symmetry to the plot.
- I think [insert half-remembered argument from an unrelated review you read in the New York Times].
- It was:
a. [for thrillers] a real page-turner.
b. [for literary fiction] so nuanced.
c. [for any kind of printed matter] so powerful.
- I enjoyed it for a while, but felt it went on too long (if the other person reacts with surprise and says it was only a 120-page novella, nod sagely and say “Exactly.”).
- It was a multi-layered book, wasn’t it? I loved the intertextuality, like those allusions to Babylonian mythology that underscore the narrative structure (will make the other person change the subject very quickly).
- As a matter of fact I haven’t read it. I feel comfortable saying this because my ego is secure enough not to be dented by admitting my ignorance even of this famous book that absolutely everyone has read.*
* Only to be used as a last resort.
Andrew Blackman is a former Wall Street Journal staff writer, now living in Crete and concentrating on fiction. His second novel A Virtual Love explores themes of identity in the age of social media, and his short stories and essays have appeared in Post Road, Spark, Switchback and Monthly Review among others.