Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A nice bit of rhetoric

Vodkapundit sent me to this restaurant review, which -- and this, I hasten to add, is not why I'm linking it -- spends most of its time in a quite astonishingly detailed blow-by-blow account of the reviewer's struggles to collect a sample of his own fecal matter, per the instructions of his NHS doctor, in hopes of recovering from the unmentionable gastrointestinal consequences of a trip to Bombay. One uses "unmentionable" in a wistful, ideal sense, regrettably; in point of fact the reviewer spends the first seven paragraphs of his restaurant review mentioning it. In, as I say, detail. I don't know about you, Gentle Reader, but I would think that if I were attempting to make a living reviewing restaurants, I would as a professional policy steer away from the, shall we say, unappetizing. But I suppose Mr. Gill, not I, is the expert here.

At any rate, eight paragraphs on Gill finally starts working himself around to telling us what restaurant is the nominal subject of his piece, and then proceeds to blast away at them most entertainingly. Vodkapundit considered this particular paragraph most quoteworthy:
My chicken and ham pie was a disaster. I use the word in the gastronomic sense. It wasn’t a disaster like an earthquake in Pakistan or the Black Death, but in its own dinner time, it was up there with the Thirty Years War. A sarcophagus of bone-dry, boiled and shredded ham, with hen tits. Once the pastry was on, they’d forgotten to make it taste of anything, or give it any liquidity. “Sorry, mate, we’ve paved it over now. Can’t dig it up again.”
But personally I was struck by a different sentence, in which the insertion of the single word "blamelessly" adds a very nice layer of irony to the damning-with-faint-praise technique:
I started with mushroom soup, which was a thick, grey custard of underseasoned field mushrooms and not much else. It was, blamelessly, what it promised to be: a liquid made out of fungus.
Now that latter sentence, if nothing else in the otherwise (frankly) rather disturbing piece, marks its author as a man who knows how to write.

Hmm, and I'm guessing that not a single one of my long-suffering readers can imagine why I would think that sentence worth cranking out a whole Peril post...


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