Monday, May 7, 2007

To Review or Not to Review!

Lionel Shriver explains exactly why I don't like to write book reviews.

What if you trash a book whose author is then in a position to trash you? What if you trash a book and then run into the author at con? They may smile and smile at you, but you know there's murder behind those smiles. And can you blame them? Every book--even a bad one--is an agony to write and represents weeks of works. And then some uppity reviewer comes along and dismisses those weeks, even years, of painful slogging with a few paragraphs. Sure, some books deserve being eviscerated, but I guess I'm too cowardly to be the one with the knife.

Clearly, if I love a book, you'll hear about it here. But if I hate a book, you will not. Particularly if it's a book that everyone else is loving to death. I find that the more likely a book (especially genre) is hailed as fabulous, the more likely I shall hate it. And the more likely I shall keep my opinion to myself. I just don't have the guts to go against the grain. Well--that's not true. If I were sure that I should never meet the author at a cocktail party, then I'd probably feel safe in airing my dislike. But the higher the odds I might meet the author, the less likely I am to spread my negative opinion around. Cowardly but true. I'd like to think that authors would realize a bad review is nothing personal--except of course a bad review is everything personal, because a book is everything personal. Le livre c'est moi, to paraphrase the Sun King.

Also, oh so true: As Ms. Shriver says: "Every compliment I've ever received in print, I have forgotten. The insults I can often quote verbatim; they have the cerebral shelf-life of radioactive isotopes."

Oh yes.

1 comment:

Cake said...

But you're soooo good at being mean -- and I don't mean that in a bad way.

Set the bile free!