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Archives: July 2005

Over the Rainbow

Taking its cue from heated responses to Paul Ruditis’s Rainbow Party, the NY Times asks how common rainbow parties really are. The answer: not very.

“This ‘phenomenon’ has all the classic hallmarks of a moral panic,” said Dr. Deborah Tolman … “One day we have never heard of rainbow parties and then suddenly they are everywhere, feeding on adults’ fears that morally bankrupt sexuality among younger teens is rampant, despite any actual evidence, as well as evidence to the contrary.”

… “One of the reasons this is so dubious to me,” Dr. Tolman said, “is that girls, particularly early adolescents, are still getting labeled as sluts and suffering painful consequences. The double standard is remarkably intact. So what could be girls’ motivations for participating in such parties? And I can’t quite imagine, even for a moment, teenage boys comparing their lipstick rings.”

Critical Consumption

The London Times talks to writers about their most vicious reviews, written or received. John Banville recounts being reviewed by a critic who “would review books on the basis of the author’s photograph on the back cover”; Ben MacIntyre, the victim of a cruel review by John Carey, remembers “plotting complicated ways of murdering [the] Professor”; and A.N. Wilson recalls meeting a writer he reviewed who could quote the entire nasty thing by heart.

The real fun, though, comes at the article’s end, where Michiko Kakutani votes writers off the island:


The Spooky Art
by Norman Mailer

The effect of reading the book straight through is like going on a very long bus ride over a bumpy road, sitting next to a garrulous raconteur who never takes a nap and never pauses for breath and who seems to have no internal editor or censor in his head.

Magic Seeds
by V. S. Naipaul

Mr Naipaul’s contempt for all the people he has created in this novel makes for a mean, stingy book — a book full of judgmental pronouncements and free-floating rage, and sadly bereft of insight, compassion or wisdom.

Now Is The Time To Open Your Heart
by Alice Walker

If this novel did not boast the name of Alice Walker, who won acclaim some two decades ago with The Color Purple, it’s hard to imagine how it could have been published. It is a remarkably awful compendium of inanities.