Thursday, July 22, 2010

That Critical Eye

I don't consider myself a writer. I'm a critic, meaning I do not make things, I make comments and pass judgments on the things that others have worked hard to make such as brownies and novels. What right do I have to disparagingly describe a brownie as "chalky" or to say that a novel had too early a denouement - I have no right at all! I'm completely unqualified! Ain't this the tops?

No. And it ain't a bowl of cherries either. This is perhaps why I am critical: I want a big bowl of cherries. I want to leap around in it. And a toothsome, moist brownie that is reasonably priced, and a novel that captures me even unto the epilogue. I'm always looking for them. Sometimes I find them and then isn't life grand for that hour!

It's human nature, I think, to be critical, or we'd have no need for movie reviews, or to use a fine toothed comb to comb the "about me" sections of online dating services. Every guy would be as good as every other guy, every movie a series of car crashes that would be indistinguishable from every other car crash made in the long history of car crashes and flaming motorcycle pileups.

We want the best damn flaming motorcycle pileup. The job of the critic is to watch all of them and determine the best one, read a lot of novels so you don't have to, so you can just sit back, and eat the most delicious brownie.


  1. I am a critic also! And you know what? Sometimes, the best books that get the raves leave me kind of lukewarm. Like "Edgar Sawtelle." But also, I feel that if you add a bag of chocolate chips, ANY BROWNIE RECIPE IS IMPROVED tenfold. molly

  2. Dear, dear Molly! I completely agree. Anything and everything is improved with the addition of a big bag of chocolate chips.

  3. Hhhmm... but if you eat the world's best brownie and have never eaten dry, crappy crumbly brownies yourself, will you appreciate the world's best brownie? Absolutely seek out the distilled knowledge of the critic, but also to hone your own critical eye, lest you are auditioning for the role of lemming ;)

  4. I don't have any good books to recommend at the moment and cannot comment with any level of expertise on motorcycle pileups. But I can say that the "Dough Raise Me" brownies at Savenors are pretty good, and the Georgetown (when you're back in the DC area) Marvelous Market sometimes has amazing brownies. It's hit or miss. But if you're up for baking, Ruth Reichl's ArtPark brownies are really the best ever: