Daniel Mendelsohn is a media critic and How Beautiful It Is And How Easily It Can Be Broken is a collection of reviews he has written over the years about books, plays, and movies, putting me in the strange situation of reviewing the reviewer. Now Mendelsohn’s approach is vastly more erudite and sweeping than mine: his reviews go on for pages , minutely analyze the nuances of the piece, and contrast it with others and past performances when applicable, so much so that reading the reviews pretty much requires that the reader be familiar with the piece to begin with. Indeed, I found that the reviews of plays I did not know were almost impossible to understand.
And for the ones I did know, I found the critic to be o so picky: nothing is ever perfect enough for him and it seems that his goal is to find the flaws, which he does, always! Where is the pleasure of reading (or watching a play)? Can’t he ever get moved by a glorious story and let the inconsistencies and imperfections just lie there, perhaps noticed but who cares if they don’t get in the way of the work?