So Good It’s Bad

According to the perverse aesthetics of artistic guilty pleasure, certain books and movies are so bad — so crudely conceived, despicably motivated and atrociously executed — that they’re actually rather good. 'Solar,' the new novel by Ian McEwan, is just the opposite: a book so good — so ingeniously designed, irreproachably high-minded and skillfully brought off — that it’s actually quite bad…. The performance is an exquisite bore, with all the overchoreographed dullness of a touring ice ballet cast with off-season Olympic skaters.

That's Walter Kirn reviewing Ian McEwan's new book. There is a whole category of art and people who fall into the "so excellent it's dull" category. "She's too nice," was a complaint Jerry had about one of his girlfriends in Seinfeld.


In Jeremy Denk's review of Netherland, he referred to "a sentence so stupefyingly boring that I fell asleep three times while typing it into my computer and had to wipe the drool thrice lovingly off my mousepad."

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