Thursday, August 16, 2012

Michiko Kakutani, messy watch

From a February 2011 post:

New York Times book-reviewer Michiko Kakutani is known for her frequent (some might say too frequent) use of the verb limn. Nearly as frequent is her use of the adjective messy.
I made my case by collecting appearances of messy and mess, from 1979 to the then present.

The first mess of 2012 appeared in Kakutani’s tactless paraphrase of a line from Philip Larkin’s “This Be the Verse”: “They mess you up” for “They fuck you up.” This past Sunday’s Times has the first messy of 2012. It appears in a review of Nicholson Baker’s The Way the World Works, a book of essays Kakutani calls a “hodge-podgy collection”:
He even gives himself little rules concerning his annotation of books: no messy underlining or highlighting in yellow or pink, just a discreet little dot in the margin next to something he approves of — dots so discreet that they “could almost be a dark fleck in the paper” — and, also, no more than 10 or 15 dots per book.
Look at “Narrow Ruled,” the essay in question, and you’ll see that “messy underlining” reflects Kakutani’s sensibility, not Baker’s. Yes, Baker prefers making dots to underlining, but what he says about “the dot method,” as he calls it, is that it is “unobtrusive.” And making dots is not a matter of “little rules”: it’s just the way he likes to mark passages in his reading for later hand-copying. That’s why “it’s best” (Baker’s words) to make ten to fifteen dots: there’s no rule involved, aside from the narrow-ruled notebooks into which Baker copies.

This review seems to mark the first appearance of hodge-podgy in Kakutani’s prose. Hodge-podge though has appeared often.

Related posts
Michiko Kakutani, messy
First messy of 2011
“They mess you up”

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