What image do the words ‘book reviewer’ conjure? For me, thanks no doubt to George Orwell’s essay ‘Confessions of a Book Reviewer’, they bring to mind a bespectacled tea-drinking man who sits in a dressing gown at a wobbly table, surrounded by unpaid bills and volumes that bear inauspicious titles such as Tribal Customs in Portuguese East Africa.
A critic of this kind is inevitably jaded. (I shall use the words ‘reviewer’ and ‘critic’ interchangeably.) Among the more obvious vices of the jaded critic – or the merely talentless one – is lexical laziness. We are all aware of the argot of the more lethargic sort