Here’s the review’s start:
"As far as collections of short stories go, I Wonder What Human Flesh Tastes Like is a highly mixed bag.
On the one hand, there were some beautiful sentences, some truly inspired imagery. On the other hand — and this is a much larger and more visible hand — most of the stories felt... pointless. Hollow. Lacking substance.
The characters were uniformly unlikable, self-involved, and obsessive about strange things that never seemed to matter as much as they said they did."
Aside from a few clichés in phrasing, the sentiment is correct, but then Holloway's review tanks:
"...a classic case of telling more than showing. Each story set up an interesting new point of view, and then proceeded to show us how they all shared the same peculiar sort of bizarre madness. Reading through the first few stories, this was interesting; after about half the book, it was tiresome."
A couple of deadly clichés, and, telling was simply not the problem with Isis’s prose. It was what was told, and how it was told that was the problem. Holloway makes it seem as if the act of a character speaking the action is, of itself, always wrong or a bad artistic choice, and does not distinguish between the specifics of most of the tales and the fact that they are told.
Then there is the odd choice to not excerpt a single word from the book. How is a reader supposed to gauge it for themselves? Holloway seems to want the reader to wholly trust her, rather than even give a taste of the work in question. Apparently, this is a website policy, as The New York Journal Of Books seems to have exempted excerption from its reviews, as evidenced by the couple dozen reviews posted by them, that I clicked on, bore not a one.
Let me digress, for a moment, and assail the website itself. First, I’ve seen quite a few reviews from this website, before the one in question, and have been singularly unimpressed with the brief, rote, and, well, hackneyed, reviews they post. Second, there’s the ethical issue of the deliberate parasitic nature of the website’s name — a direct steal from the long established and, despite many flaws, still superior The New York Review Of Books (which, it shall be noted, offers generous excerpts — be they good or bad); a dubious and cheap tactic to confuse search engines and siphon off gullible, non-cyber savvy, new readers. Finally, aside from the bad, formulaic writing, and dubious name choice, it’s — simply put — a very ugly looking website. I get some readers who harp on me for Cosmoetica’s not being a ‘bells and whistles’ site, but it’s unique, the essays are very readable (several organizations for vision-impaired people have praised it) style and font-wise, and it’s aesthetically far easier on the eyes than the Journal’s flat and dull color scheme.