Lonely Planet's dead. Long live Lonely Planet.
This is not unfair. I do think his comment on people mistaking "sincerity for authenticity" is fair, though I think even sincerity is fine, when it's not overtly precious, doe-eyed, as such. One character can be sincere, but they can't ALL be. To put it gently: happy endings are for losers, as are soft deaths.
Any book where a person loves where they come from is no book at all. Half of what drives the world is despising where you come from. I don't care if Brooklyn is heaven (and it's not). The first conflict should be the internal nurturing kind. That's why so many great novels are about journeys and family conflicts. Drama incipient at birth.
To be fair, I did enjoy Kavalier and Clay (though far too long and caricature-ish), A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (which you hate-love like a really great marketing campaign) and Motherless Brooklyn. Also, I've read Bee Season, The Secret Life of Bees, and Lovely Bones with varying degrees of indifference. Everything is Illuminated plain old sucked.
Maybe, that's why I left NY. NYers are so into themselves. You can't trust someone who doesn't know how to stumble, to hustle. LA people, stunningly enough, lack any self-esteem. Anything that looks like egoism is just a coverup for terror. Plagued with self-doubt. It's comforting. Characters in these books are always gifted, they don't learn or grow so much, or if they do, you feel it's contrived. More things have to be at stake, more things have to be broken, more things have to be honest.
And maybe set in Delaware or Nevada. For a change.
SNL Iran music video garners two thumbs up.