A clever (and, yes, funny) collection of essays. Sidebars pepper the text with sources and commentary; the latter often reveal less about the subject matter than the nervous and endearing habits of the writer.
A reader’s common complaint about a particular book is that it is not another book. Wishing for another book is wishing for one’s own book. Or, more accurately, for the representation of one’s own eccentric dream.Barringer, There’s nothing funny about design, page 61
One could read this cynically, in that the reader disparages those that fail to live up to his imaginary expectations. But I prefer another approach: that this inherent dissatisfaction in reading is part of what drives the desire to read in the first place. I think of the librarians in Borges’ “The Library of Babel,” doomed to spend their entire lives searching an infinite library for a book they will never find. That they cannot succeed does not make their quest futile; it is the quest itself that matters.
If critics want to acknowledge a plurality of value systems, they shouldn’t ask “Who cares?” They should answer, “I care, and this is why.”Barringer, There’s nothing funny about design, page 129
Amen. Criticism has no call to be fair and objective; it needs rather to be original, passionate, and personal.