A Brain Teaser at the New York Times

Every once in a long while, there comes a book critic who startles. A critic whose sentences do not conform. There is an abruptness and yet a sententiousness. There is a difficulty knowing how to take him. We speak, we should say, of Richard Eder.

Who is this newish book critic for the New York Times, who is also a former critic for the New York Times, by way of several years’ service for the Los Angeles Times? Why do his ideas sound as if they had gurgled up from somewhere very, very deep? What are we to make of his review this morning of Inge Schulz’s Simple Stories, in which Eder claims to be receiving secret messages from the creases in the face of the former minister of East Germany, Egon Krenz? What should we think of the following:

Meurer’s wife gets a new hairdo. Irony, yet also something more. … A woman, even at 70 and despite everything, rearranges her hair. Consider the “do” in hairdo.

For we, who do not know, must know. What about the “do” in hairdo?