With a public apology to Ed, I have removed my prior post. What I'd thought was humorous was clearly not taken that way, and so we add another mark to the column of misfired attempts at humor and solider on.
I can say that I found myself wondering not only what book Ed read but what post he read. He quotes me as saying that "the book's tone doesn't 'rely on tired platitudes' " but I said no such thing. Here's the tired platitudes section from my original post:
I remember some time ago, Steve Mitchelmore posted something (wish I could find the link) about challenging us to really be able to explain why we enjoyed a book so much, not to simply rely on tired platitudes.
Nothing to do with the book or its style, but how we think about books. And it's clear from Ed's post that we do think about books very differently. I find the overload of detail Ed prefers stultifying. I get insulted as a reader when every single gesture and emotion is spelled out and writ large. I prefer the subtle brush stroke over the kitchen sink, and so perhaps it was foreordained that we would not see eye to eye on the book. At any rate, I reiterate a public apology for any offense given.
Sam's more interesting point about Ticknor's literary forebears bears closer examination. Whatever use Heti might have made of original source material, it's clear enough to anyone with even a cursory knowledge of Ticknor's life that she's wrested it free and infused it with something considerably more than transcription.
By the way, you can read an original 1864 review of Ticknor's Life here at the Cornell website.
(Oh and for the record, I don't think there is a real long-short debate. There are good long books and bad long books, and there are good short books and bad short books. I don't think anyone would disagree that long for long's sake isn't necessarily better - that's all I've ever said.)