Joe's Reviews > The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science

The Canon by Natalie Angier
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's review
Apr 06, 2009

did not like it
bookshelves: physics
Recommended to Joe by: Jenny! Why?!
Recommended for: My enemies.
Read in August, 2009

Annoying is the fairest word I could come up to describe The Canon after suffering through it for these past weeks. In fact, this is easily the most annoying book I've ever read, not because the science is poor or the topics contrived. In fact, the subject areas Angier chooses to describe are somewhat intuitive and logically ordered (for the most part).

She just has this writing style that, well... it just makes me want to scream.

"Peppers" isn't even the appropriate word. She sort of... "vomits" alliterative phrases into every possible nook and cranny of her work. Nine out of ten paragraphs (I said paragraphs, not pages or chapters) ends with an exhausting colloquialism, contrived personal experience or mixed metaphor. And ten out of ten of those literary devices is gunked up with painfully clunky alliteration, some of which doesn't even make sense.

I don't think you understand how systemic it is though. Therefore, I'm going to patronizingly write the rest of this review in Angier's style to drive the point home. Here goes:

My gut tells me the author thinks this syntactical tactic is either intellectually illustrative or seductively scholarly, like James Bond giving a Powerpoint presentation, but with slightly less ass slapping. It would be valuable if these stylistic stutters were better thought out or perhaps just better spread out across this accursed anthology. But they're not. They're uncomfortably packed together like the reliably rude commuters crammed onto the N train during my mundane morning migration to work.

There is value in this book though, and that is the actual science. Unfortunately, it stands stoic and silent, drowned out by the ostensibly clever but officious and indefensible affectations we readers are brought to bear.

To recapitulate my reticence and perhaps to highlight this haphazard heads-up: It's like a mighty mastodon masticated a healthy handful of diamonds and then defecated onto my lawn. Sure there are some gems in there, but I'd rather stay poor than fervently forage such feces.

Don't read it.
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Reading Progress

05/13/2009 page 20
07/28/2009 page 180
59.21% "This is the worst book in the world."
10/09/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Kfray (new)

Kfray I'm laughing out loud in a crowded internet cafe. at least something good came out of that book- your amazing review

Matthew I couldn't agree more. Thanks you for taking the time to pan this book so eloquently!

message 3: by Kit (new)

Kit Well said!

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