September 8, 2003

· Books

Dan Drezner quotes Clive James to good effect on snarky literary reviews. James is the author of the poem “The Book of my Enemy has been Remaindered,” which captures the quintessence of literary schadenfreude that we get a whiff of when reading snarky reviews:

The book of my enemy has been remaindered And I am pleased. In vast quantities it has been remaindered Like a van-load of counterfeit that has been seized And sits in piles in a police warehouse, My enemy’s much-prized effort sits in piles In the kind of bookshop where remaindering occurs. Great, square stacks of rejected books and, between them, aisles One passes down reflecting on life’s vanities, Pausing to remember all those thoughtful reviews Lavished to no avail upon one’s enemy’s book—For behold, here is that book Among these ranks and banks of duds, These ponderous and seemingly irreducible cairns Of complete stiffs.

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I am Associate Professor of Sociology at Duke University. I’m affiliated with the Kenan Institute for Ethics, the Markets and Management Studies program, and the Duke Network Analysis Center.

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