There have been a few reviews published this week on The Jewel of Medina. USA Today was hardly complimentary, and the New York Times was so sniffy I’m suspecting nasal spray was involved.
But I’m handing out penalties to the Times and to writer Lorraine Adams, because there are some serious flags on the play in her review.
Illegal Procedure, 10 yard penalty for the following quote:
Spellberg’s characterization of “The Jewel of Medina” as soft porn doesn’t hold up, since the language describing A’isha and Muhammad’s conjugal relations is always euphemistic and most often juvenile. The novel is, in fact, an example of that subspecies of genre fiction, “historical romance.” Yet even judged by that standard, Jones’s prose is lamentable.
Subspecies?! Judged by that standard? Oh, holy shit. I’ve got some standards right here, and you’re not meeting them.
Unsportsmanlike conduct, 15 yard penalty, loss of down, for uncalled-for ruminations as to whether Jones’ book is “art” and worthy of defense of free-speech advocates:
Should free-speech advocates champion “The Jewel of Medina”? In the American context, the answer is unclear. The Constitution protects pornography and neo-Nazi T-shirts, but great writers don’t generally applaud them. If Jones’s work doesn’t reach those repugnant extremes, neither does it qualify as art. It is telling that PEN, the international association of writers that works to advance literature and defend free expression, has remained silent on the subject of this novel. Their stance seems just about right.
It’s not art, and it’s not repugnant, either, so it’s not worthy of defense as free speech? Are you fucking KIDDING me?! Free speech is worth getting up off the couch for only when it’s truly vile or truly marvelous?
Here’s some free speech for you: Shut the fuck up.
[Thanks to Stacey and Barb Ferrer for the links.]