Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cringe-making turn of phrase in the New York Times

I was reading the review of Gary Shteyngart's new novel Super Sad True Love Story in today's NYT. (The title reminded me of The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian and other run-on sentence titles of late.) In it, Michiko Kakutani wrote the following:

This novel avoids the pretensions and grandiosity of Mr. Shteyngart’s last book, “Absurdistan,” even as it demonstrates a new emotional bandwidth and ratifies his emergence as one of his generation’s most original and exhilarating writers.

It was good news, in that Absurdistan, which was pretty likeable, was kind of a mess. But what really struck me was the phrase "emotional bandwidth." It's kind of clever-sounding, but really doesn't mean a thing, or at least means something other than what the author wanted it to mean. I think she means that Mr. Sheyngart's work has achieved an emotional depth not reached in his earlier work. With the phrase "emotional bandwidth," though, she is suggesting that Mr. Shteyngart can now receive his emotions quicker. Perhaps she should have said that Mr. Shteyngart had undergone an emotional processor upgrade. "With his new quad-core Xeon processor, Shteyngart can now deal with a greater number of emotions and process them faster. He also has a larger amount of L3 Liminal cache, cranking up his dissection of complex social interactions by at least a factor of 40." Or something. Way better, if you ask me.

Or how about Shteyngart's new hot-swappable 10 TB RAID level 6 emotion drive? It's striped, mirrored and multiply redundant. No degradation of his emotions there, no matter how many times they're accessed or transferred.

Emotional bio-RAM? Shteyngart has that in spades! His new Double Data Rate synchronous dynamic random access emotional memory can hold thousands of iterations of love and hate simultaneously!

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