I have just finished reading David Shaw's review of "The Seventh Secret" (The Book Review, March 2) and found it quite enjoyable. The critic starts by saying how the book "hooks you from the first page and holds you until the last" and then spends the rest of his time trying to undermine his opening words.
Shaw seems to forget that a novel is fiction, mainly for one purpose--to entertain. If, during the course of reading, the book can impart some knowledge due to the author's research, fine. But he must first be able to entertain. The art of entertainment is just that--an art.
It seems to me that Shaw couldn't put the book down, yet felt he had to spend his allotted space searching for excuses why one shouldn't be entertained by the book so that he could justify his title of "critic." A book whose words are "wooden," or whose subject has been overdone by "every pop novelist," couldn't hold a reader for long. I find it hard to believe that Irving Wallace's book is as boring as the critic is trying to imply, yet I enjoyed chuckling over his contradictions.
Shaw's opening words tell me that Wallace has not failed me yet. I will be going out, once again, to buy his book.