Book Notes: Araminta Hall’s Our Kind of Cruelty

I wanted a good British thriller to read on vacation and like a total putz I trusted a review in the New York Times that gushed about Araminta Hall’s Our Kind of Cruelty. This is absolutely the last time ever I trust an NYTimes reviewer because the book stank like you have no idea.

The novel was written by a professor of creative writing, which is already a bad sign. In the author’s own words, she was motivated by rage against men and hatred of patriarchy to write the book. There is pretty little in terms of a plot, no interesting characters, no mystery, no insight into character psychology. All the readers get are vignettes that feature nasty, sex-obsessed, violent, and mean men who despise and victimize tiny, skinny, helpless and angelic women. The novel reads like an essay by an earnest freshman in a gender studies course, who can’t write yet is happy to trot out the primitive ideas and the in-group jargon she learned in class. Since the ideas are extremely shallow, all the author can do is repeat them with little variation again and again.

I should have known that an NYTimes reviewer would love this kind of a pseudo-feminist screed and consider it great literature. I was hoping that at least the book reviews would be free from the affirmations of ideological allegiance that have become all that the newspaper publishes. But I was wrong.

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