Did LA Times Writer David Ulin Read 11/22/63 ?

Hold on to the word "Review" because it is important. 
  • The LA times has posted a "review" of 11/22/63 by David Ulin. 
  • It is titled, "Book Review: Stephen King's 11/22/63." 
So we're clear, right?  It is a review.  Got it? 

But, there is very little review of 11/22/63 taking place here!  It's mostly a discussion of King's character development, genre and how King is under-rated. 

The 703 word "review" discusses a new years conversation about Stephen King, Kings novella "A Good Marriage", the novel "The Shining", "Desperation", "The Body", "Misery", quotes from Desperation, discussion of why Desperaton is Ulin's favorite novel, and Ulin even takes a breath to remind us of his own interview with King. . . and on and on.  The "review" feels like a golf ball hit full swing in a tile bathroom.  It's everywhere except on target!

The strange thing is, there is no real review of 11.22.63 !  Here's the review (are you ready?) --
For the record, I didn't think much of "11/22/63"; I found it meandering and unfocused—not to mention far too long.
So it was "unfocused" "meandering" and too long.  Interesting, since that is my opinion of Ulin's "review."  The review portion of the review was 21 words -- while the article was 703 words.  But, according to Ulin, King's book was unfocused!

It seems he didn't like the book, but someone must have assigned him to write a review.  Instead of reviewing the book, he spends his time discussing King's strengths.  Since he didn't like the book, he makes up for it by telling us King has gotten a "bad rap."  Yes!  The bad rap comes from Ulin's "review."

Ulin offers no real, substantive discussion of the book, its characters, its themes.  Mr. Ulin wrote and unfocused review of King's work, criticizing King for being "meandering and unfocused." 

In fact, there is so little discussion of the novel in the review, I am left wondering if he read the book!  If he was giving this as a book report in class, I'd have to ask, "Excuse me, did you read the book?"  Expect him to say, "I've read a lot of Stephen King."  YES!  But did you read THIS book? 

This review begs the question: Who let this go to print?  Did they read it before they printed the "review"?  Did the hole for the book review slot demand to be filled, no matter what Ulin wrote? 

Read the review for yourself (HERE).  I think he was really reviewing THE SHINING !


  1. You'd think the L.A. Times would be capable of better.

  2. What this article really begs is how farther will the state of modern journalism fall.

    That's not an idle question.

    Incidentally, for more in this same vein (if you can stomach it) I'd have to recommend The Shadow of Great Rock by Harold Bloom. It's his take on the Bible.

    The irony is he's read it, he knows the meaning the words on the page convey, and yet it's amazing how little respect he shows the Bible writer, in particular the Prophets and the Gospel Writers.

    A casual run through of the Bloom book was enough to tell me that people like Bloom have no fundamental respect for others. For them life stops at me and mine, and that includes books...any kind of book.

  3. Interesting! I had my fill of guys like Bloom at the University and seminary. Indeed, they do very little examination of the text itself and fail to be amazed at the simply amazing. I have spent a good deal of my ministry voiding my shelves of books like mr. Bloom's (though not his specifically.)

  4. I know nothing about Bloom, so I can't speak to the book of his that Anonymous mentions. However, it sounds like we've got a case of apples and crackers here.

    Anonymous tells us that Bloom isn't ignorant of the topic he's writing about (The Bible), he's just disrespectful toward it. However, the issue with the L.A. Times "review" is that the "reviewer" doesn't seem to be disdainful of the material, but he certainly DOES seem to be ignorant of it. Bloom, regardless of how you feel about his views, has read his subject; Ulin might have read his, too, but he offers no evidence of it.

    I fail to see how the comparison to Bloom is at all applicable to Ulin's review of "11/22/63."

    Anonymous seems to want to hold Bloom's book -- which, a thirty-second stint on Google informs me, is actually named "The Shadow of a Great Rock" -- up as some sort of failure of journalism, but it's not journalism at all; it's criticism, which is another field altogether.

    For all I know, Bloom may be a horrible writer and a horrible person ... but he's really got nothing to do with the subject at hand.

  5. Ah, let me be the first to apologize. It's my fault for not making my last post to clear. What I should have done was make it clear tha Bloom "doesn't" in fact know what he's talking about.

    He's not much of a scholar Biblical or Literrary. For me, Bloom's greatest vice as a critic, aside from his snide condescension toward even subjects he likes, is his lack of literary first principles. What M.O. he judges books by. So far, I've found none, unless it's a kind neo-transcendentalism.

    What bugged me about the "Rock" book was his flaunting his ignorance in the face of a subject he knows nothing about and deliberatly tries to talk down the Bible writers like they were a bunch of young up and comers fresh published in New York and it's his (Bloom's) job to cut 'em down to size when he's clearly in over his head.

    However, you might be right about Bloom being off topic, I just thought I'd bring it up as an example of more of the same in other fields.

    Maybe it was my bad. Oh well.

  6. No, that change to "doesn't" from "does" certainly makes it a different scenario. Makes sense to me now!

    Come to think of it, didn't Bloom write a book about King? Pardon me while I consult Google...

    Turns out, no, he didn't: but he edited one, which appears to be a collection of anti-King essays.

    Seems like I can add this guy to my "pay no attention to..." list!