Michiko Kakutani Lives to ‘Limn’ Again

By
Photo: Bloomberg/2011 Bloomberg

Barbed New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani has a reputation, among her others, as the literary world's number-one proponent of the word limn, or "to outline in clear sharp detail." Her tendency toward the conspicuous verb in all of its tenses was detailed beginning back in 2002 by this magazine, and more to follow, perhaps leading to brief respite for the term. But Kakutani will not be contained: In today's slam of J.K. Rowling's not–Harry Potter book, the word returns in one early, particularly brutal sentence: "Unfortunately, the real-life world she has limned in these pages is so willfully banal, so depressingly clichéd that The Casual Vacancy is not only disappointing — it's dull." It popped up in her work twice last year, as well as in 2008 and 2010, as if Kakutani is saying, I see you, picking over my prose, but I am in the position to not care.