On the flight back from Africa, which clocked in at a momentous 21 hours and 25 minutes, with an almost-comical 8 hour layover, I finished Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman at the suggestion of a friend. It is an excellent missive on feminism and growing up, altogether hilarious and at times touching. One that I highly recommend.
Many of the chapters resonated with me, but one story in particular struck a cord. She describes an article she wrote early in her writing career, in which she skewered an album by Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. She talks about how the album itself wasn’t that bad – innocuous really, and perhaps not all that interesting, but not terrible. Mediocrity is, as any writer or reviewer knows, a notoriously difficult thing to write about. “It was okay” is not that compelling of an experience. It dooms all criticism about said experience to occupy that same space. Rarely is a review about something mediocre better than the subject itself. But give a writer something truly wonderful, or, better yet, truly terrible, on which to express their opinion, and watch how they shine.