Sunday, October 08, 2006

From: Paul Ryburn's Journal

"Tendentious": Why I can't stand Koeppel's restaurant reviews

Yesterday I was browsing the Commercial Appeal's website, and noticed that Fredric Koeppel had written about Stella in his weekly dining review. So I clicked the link to see what he had to say.

The first sentence started off: "At the risk of sounding tendentious..."

Okay. In high school I scored 1430 on the SAT. I went on to a liberal arts college where I had to spend a lot of my time reading books with big words. Since then I've spent a fair amount of time reading for personal pleasure. And yet I have no idea what "tendentious" means. I don't think I've even seen the word before. I wonder if even 1% of Koeppel's readers actually knew the meaning of that word.

tendentious also tendencious adj (1900): marked by a tendency in favor to a particular point of view: BIASED - tendentiously adv - tendentiousness n

Now, that definition may possibly be outdated, as I pulled it from the dictionary I got in 1987 while still in high school. But I think we'll be okay, because Koeppel is probably the first person to actually use that word in a sentence since 1987.

When I read the first line of his Stella review, this is the thought that came to my mind:

"Well, I don't know if he sounds tendentious, but he certainly sounds pretentious."

I didn't bother to read the rest of the review. Instead, I pulled up Stacey Greenberg's excellent Dining with Monkeys blog to read some restaurant reviews that are a lot more fun, accessible, and interesting.

Looking at the reader comments section of Koeppel's Stella review, it's clear that I'm not the only one who feels this way about his writing style. I remember reading last year that the Commercial Appeal is interested in doing more to appeal to the common Memphian. Sorry guys, but this is one area in which you ain't getting it done.

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