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Short vs. Long

Personally, I think there’s a place for both—Ben Kunkel’s enormous review of Bolano in the new LRB is worth it, although I tend to prefer short reviews like in The Believer that whet my appetite for a book—but here’s a short (850-words) piece by Michael O’Donnell in defense of brevity.

Ah, but there’s the problem: rigorous writing—rigorous thinking—is concise, not stretched out, corpulent, flabby. I’ll take a lean review, spare as a runner headed round a quarter-mile track. I know I can’t be alone in disagreeing with the notion that it takes 2500 words to express an idea, or in feeling a little impatient with those writers who are too grand to pick the important things, say them, and then stop. Full stop.



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