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Baklava Critics

David Thompson on A List writing for TV:

The “A movies” are childish in content. A lot of the best writers these days are drawn to television rather than to the movies. Because if you write for the movies, you are, more than ever, in this dreadful committee structure where you get rewritten and rewritten and rewritten. Certainly there are corporate structures in television. But the volume of production is the distinguishing factor. Television has to produce a great deal just to fill the air, whereas the movies are always going for the smash hit. There was a time when the studios were very happy with a film if it made a modest profit. Now no one ever dreams of making a modest profit. They may end up making a loss, but what they’re aiming at is a huge profit. It’s a version of gambling, in other words.

Diane Abu-Jaber on the ghettoizing of her fiction:

There’s a perception that Arabs will have some sort of special insights or extra-meaningful thing to say about my writing, Abu-Jaber observes. It also doesn’t seem to matter if the person is actually any sort of a writer or critic, just as long as they’re generally a sort of Arab-typeincluding Iranian, Turkish, Armenian and, in dire cases, Sicilian.

Unfortunately, Abu-Jaber continues, what sometimes happens in these cases is that the reviewer launches into a tirade against my book and, frequently, against me personally. It’s like they’re insulted to discover that I’m actually an American. Recently, a national newspaper ran a scathing review of my food memoir, The Language of Baklava. The review was written by a Lebanese cookbook author who eviscerated the book on the grounds that she didn’t approve of such things as my flour-to-water ratio in my pita-bread recipe, or my transliteration of the Arabic word for gypsy. But her main beef was summed up in the last line of the review in which she pronounced that, in any Arabic restaurant, I would betray my American roots. As if being an American was a sort of disgraceful flaw that I had to overcome. Most ironic to me was the fact that this very same reviewer had attended my book party for another book of mine, Crescent, a year earlier and seemed happy to eat all the recipes that she complained about in my memoir.

(from a delightful piece written by Adam Langer) . For the record, I found Crescent to be a lovely read.