Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Only The Beginning

I saw a new biography of Norman Rockwell at the library so I checked it out.  It's by Deborah Solomon, a well known writer for The New York Times.  Like most Americans, I've seen a lot of Rockwell's art but know nothing about him.

In the introduction we get this:

The great subject of his work was American life [....] Doctors spend time with patients whether or not they have health insurance.[....] Citizens at town hall meetings stand up and speak their mind without getting booed or shouted down by gun-toting rageaholics.

So rather than simply introduce her subject, she sees even a homely description of Rockwell's America as a chance to take cheap shots related to modern political issues.  This may be the sort of stuff that got her patted on the head at the Times, but doesn't she want her book to be better than that?

Ms. Solomon, let's do a thought experiment.  Let's say someone else has written this book, and they're describing the America that Rockwell's work invokes.  Here are two of the sentences:

Doctors spend time with patients whether or not they've signed up for Obamacare.  Citizens at town hall meetings stand up and speak their mind without worrying that the IRS will audit them if they hold the wrong views.

Would you find these sentences helpful, or intrusive? And what would you think of such an author? Would you believe you could trust her as a reasonably objective biographer?  Just asking.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't believe you but the IRS trope. Tax cheats are tax cheats and can't hide behind politics

4:03 AM, July 16, 2014  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

Did you bother to read the biography?

8:04 AM, July 16, 2014  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Anon one: Wow, one of the biggest scandals in US history and you use Nixon's excuse. (Except this is worse since the IRS didn't do anything in Nixon's case, and there aren't any tax cheats this time around.)

Denver Guy: Yes, I read the book, and Solomon calms down for the most part (though some readers didn't like her speculation on Rockwell's sexual preferences). A good editor should have caught that bit in the intro and convinced her it was out of place.

9:51 AM, July 16, 2014  

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