21 October 2008

Form and Criticism: From the Heartland to the Hinterland

Two good pieces of criticism exemplify the distinction between wit and humor.

Humor: Daniel Radosh (whose surname always makes me cautious) takes down Fireproof, the latest evangelical flick starring Kirk Cameron:

Known to most of the country as the kid from Growing Pains, Cameron is a superstar inside the Christian bubble: the hero of the Left Behind movies and of The Way of the Master, a kind of evangelical reality show in which Cameron ambushes strangers on the street and witnesses to them… the overriding problem is [Cameron’s character] Caleb’s Internet porn habit. “That’s the kind of man you’ve become,” Catherine shouts at him. “There is nothing honorable about it.” Caleb can save lives every day, but he will never be a decent human being as long as he follows the Way of the Masturbator.

Amitava Kumar reflects on the nature of the South Asian political novel with specific regard to the latest Man Booker Prize:
Quite apart from this whole slew of stay-at-home writers, home being in most cases somewhere outside India, are the ones who, like Adiga, have taken the bus, or at least a hired taxi, to the hinterland. They might have traveled on a boat and risked being eaten by a Royal Bengal tiger. Or they might have walked in the tight, smelly alleys in the slums and, if they are enterprising, met a hired killer or two. This brings a different frisson to the body of Indian writing in English, which, given its roots in the middle class, has often been insular and dull.
(Kumar’s essay came to my attention via Maud Newton’s most useful blog.)