“One reason we have professional novelists is that tales told by amateurs are frequently pointless, dull and inconclusive.”

—A.O. Scott in his review of Ten Days in the Hills. The link goes to the New York Times’ walled garden, so in two weeks you probably won’t be able to read it, but you don’t need to—he thinks little of Smiley’s new novel because he says its characters exhibit the traits of amateurs’ stories. Regardless of the merits of the novel, I do like Scott’s succinct and accurate defense of the novelist’s craft.

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