I do understand what he means. I recently read 'Caretaker/Pallbearer', James Wolcott's deliciously sharp review of the late John Updike's Widows of Eastwick. I guiltily enjoyed what Mark Sarvas called 'Snark as Art'.
But to me, many savage reviews (and the letters-page flame wars that follow) are petty, dull and ugly. They seem like anaemic versions of genuine conflict; like simulations, rather than exemplars, of a cage fighter's courage and perseverance. And unlike a good fight, they can drag on.
I'd rather watch a real cage fight, like the example above: Judo fighter Karo Parisyan against Dave Strasser. It has more sincerity, beauty and bravery than your average nasty review, or public spat. At times, the martial arts are more mature than their literary equivalent.
(For more on the virtues of martial arts, I penned 'Channel the rage: teach boys to fight' for the Sydney Morning Herald.)