November 22, 2002
ARE THERE NO LIMNITS?:Limning Kakutani (Dennis Loy Johnson, November 21, 2002, MobyLives)
It was, to put it mildly, a harsh review: John Updike's new book "Seek My Face," said Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times on Nov. 12, is "graceless" and "bogus in every respect," a "blatant and gratuitous" book written by "a lazy, voyeuristic and reductive hand."
It was typical of the no-holds-barred writing style favored by the Times' lead reviewer. As probably the most powerful book critic in the country, she's already positioned to make enemies. But her particular command of the language, combining keen intelligence with, often enough, scathing anger, makes her a lot more.
Which may explain why so many people have jumped on her lately over her very command of that language; in fact, for her use of one word: "limn." It started last month when a MobyLives reader named Peter Kuntz wrote in to note that Kakutani had used the word in her (negative) review of Zadie Smith's new "Autograph Man"; Kuntz observed that, in general, Kakutanni used the word a lot. That opened the floodgates.
Ms Kakutani and her colleague Richard Bernstein, are two of the best things about the Times, and she's right about Hertsgaard. Posted by Orrin Judd at November 22, 2002 6:16 PM