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Call that praise?

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Some recent blurbs:

‘We know him as the Renaissance genius. They knew him as Leonardo from Vinci.’ (Granta)

‘This is a rewarding place of first resort for those interested in ancient Greek cattle.’ (Princeton)

‘If Ewan Morrison was a woman, Close Your Eyes would be destined for the Orange Prize.’ (Cape)

‘Readers may indeed find Arthur Krystal’s prose as seductive as Mr Clooney’s screen presence.’ (Oxford)

Call that praise? Steven Mithen (writing in the LRB and following the etiquette practised on the Polynesian island of Tikopia eighty years ago) knows better:

By the time I’d read no more than a third of The Creation of Inequality I would have willingly knelt before the authors to touch my nose against their knees and announce: ‘I eat your excrement ten times.’

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