Give Crooked Cucumber to a friend

About the Book           

About Suzuki Roshi    

Negative Blurbs for 
Crooked Cucumber

A selection of the most negative comments from each review, starting with a zinger from an customer. Everything positive is removed with "..." replacing it. As you read down the dots do the work of creating only a negative impression regardless of the intent of the reviewer - the mirror opposite of the usual process. 

[Go to Review Comments, Negative Blurbs, to read about the inspiration behind the making of this page. To compare, go to Quotes on Crooked Cucumber, the positive blurb page.] 

An Over-Glorified Account

Although David Chadwick doesn't claim to be a historian, it would have been nice if he presented an objective account of Suzuki rather than merely singing the praises of his teacher. I was truly interested in learning more about Suzuki, but Chadwick's poor writing style and lack of objectivity forced me to put the book down halfway through. - reader's review

"At times Chadwick seems too obviously to be running through anecdotes his friends told him, some of which seem pointless or mawkish." - Washington Post

"One occasionally gets the impression that Chadwick is covering up Suzuki's flaws, or at least putting the best spin on his human frailties." - San Francisco Chronicle

"What the book lacks is the art of the storyteller: the feel for the essential, for light and shade, for pace and timing... a rather choppy episodic structure impedes the story's flow. The first third of the book risks losing the reader in family history and in the politics of Japanese temple priesthood before Suzuki gets clear on his mission to bring Buddhism to the West. Later, in San Francisco, we encounter a parade of associates and disciples about whom we learn little aside from names: I am left wanting to know more about Suzuki's contact with such luminaries as Alan Watts and Trungpa Rinpoche, Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder, and less about the internecine struggles of board members."  - LA Times

"The usual biographer’s methods of analyzing motivations and delving into the influences on people are missing from Chadwick’s simple narrative framework. I felt that all the layers and contexts of the central character in the story were not quite revealed... The author attempts to have Suzuki comment as Zen teacher on the processes of his own life. This is... not quite of consistent quality. It however fully fails to capture the personal koans that the man Suzuki must have had to deal with." - New Ch'an Forum

"Does Chadwick approve or disapprove of the excessive ritualism and hardship of Zen Buddhist study in Japan? Does he see it as integral to Buddhist training - the "pain is your best teacher" perspective? Or does he view such rigidity critically?...These questions are at the heart of the book, but they're ones that Chadwick never fully addresses, at least not in the focused way you'd like. They get swallowed up in the narrative, lost in the colorful episodes of Suzuki's life." - Daily Yomiuri 

"David Chadwick begins his biography of Shunryu Suzuki... by making damn sure we understand he's authorized to write it... not a very Zen thing to do." - Santa Fe Reporter

"This biography is not what the roshi would have liked to see published." - Nob Hill Gazette

"Sometimes veers towards... hagiography." - Japan Times

"The scholar in me wishes for an annotated edition that cites these sources more specifically." - Turning Wheel

"With David Chadwick's biography... Shunryu Suzuki will take his rightful place as... notoriously... useless as a crooked cucumber." - editorial review

"Outrageous... If "Crooked Cucumber" is read... it will be unfortunate." - Monterey Peninsula Herald

"Scatterbrained and dull witted." - Publisher's Weekly

"Too reverential and the biography is a meaningless love letter." - The San Jose Mercury News

"Crooked Cucumber"... thrown away... I... put it down." - Ascent Magazine

"Crooked Cucumber portrays... a collection of... remains... the son of a... derogatory nickname... would never amount to much." - Houston Chronicle

"This roshi is neither widely known in Japan, nor regarded as an important teacher by the Soto Zen hierarchy... Not skillful, or not subtle... this embarrassment... can be choppy." - Shambala Sun

"No great distinction... such a dimwit... famous for absentmindedness, not exactly what you expect of a Zen adept... David Chadwick has written... amid the political strictures of the Buddhist establishment in Japan; questioning his own qualifications... not... a student of Buddhism." - Santa Fe New Mexican

"An ordinary...  moribund... biography, by a...  rather...  scattered...  boat that is about to sail out to sea and sink" - Whole Earth Review

"Chadwick describes Suzuki... as a... child... still in... aspects of... his... archival material." - Library Journal

"Didn't have a clue." - Pacific Sun

"Not quite 'with it.'" - NAPRA ReView

"Crooked." - Yoga Journal

"Chadwick is a... Zen failure." - Sonoma West Times and News

To compare, go to Quotes on Crooked Cucumber, the positive blurb page

Back to Comments on Reviews            Back to Reviews

Home | What Was New | Contest | Digressions | Links | Jacket Notes | Book Reviews | Reader's Comments
Author's Notes | Bibliography | Author Events | About the Author | Errata
Interviews | Suzuki Stories | Photos |  Suzuki Lectures  | Archives Project | Sangha News | Contact Me  

This site designed by
The Empty Wig

Original site designed by Sheryl B.