Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Critical Prose Before Egos"

Funny how things cycle around in the wash basin of the lit scene. Picked up the new issue of Quill & Quire today. Their "Last Word" column in this number is by a writer and reviewer named Claude Lalumière and the title is the same as this post's. The subtitle: "Authors who complain about negative reviews need to grow up."

My my, how snarky. Yet, as is so often made manifest, hell hath no snarkiness like an author scorned. Lalumière goes on to recount some anecdotes of hate mail and paranoid complaints. This should sound familiar to anyone who's done any amount of honest reviewing. He has some none too kind words for the poor darlings who say he and others should play nice:

"Another blogger ... mentioned a dismissive review of his own first novel and went on at length about how hurtful negative reviews are to authors, whining about all the hard work that goes into creating a book.
I find that attitude, so pervasive in the writing community, both unprofessional and childish."

Hells ya!

"Too many writers like to talk about what hard work it is to write. Get over it. Life is hard for everyone, and we writers don't deserve special treatment."

Say it, brotha!

"An author's work is not published in a vacuum, but within literary and cultural contexts. The critic's job is to situate and evaluate a work within those parameters."

I'd say "duh," but I'm constantly having to explain this to people who think I shouldn't bring in to a review anything from outside the book, that doing so is somehow automatically "ad hominem."

"[I]sn't having your work discussed at all, amid the chaos and sheer varietyof cultural products available to the public, preferable to having it ignored?"

Well, it should be, but some people apparently just want to be left alone.