5 minutes ago
Friday, 21 November 2008
(from the New York Times )
Joe Queenan thinks book reviewers are too nice. I don't always agree with him, (especially on the Coen brothers) but I do always think he's pretty sharp.
"This brings us to the least-discussed subject in the world of belles-lettres: book reviews that any author worth his salt knows are unjustifiably enthusiastic. Authors are always complaining that reviewers missed the whole point of “Few Mourn the Caballero,” or took the quote about the merry leper ballerinas out of context, or overlooked the allusions to Octave Mirbeau, or didn’t mention that the author once jilted the critic after he kept begging her to go out on a double date dressed as one of the Boleyn sisters. Authors are always complaining that reviewers maliciously cited the least incandescent, least Pushkinian passages in the book, or have a grudge against them because of something that happened the night the Khmer Rouge or Joy Division broke up, or only said mean things because the author went to Exeter while the reviewer had to settle for Andover."
I also love this, it's so painful: I for one would never want one of my books referred to as “a big dish of Beluga caviar” sailing in “on a sparkling bed of rice, with a mother-of-pearl spoon,” as one of Alice Munro’s once was.
My favourite review quote (for my own first book) remains: "Gutted is not the sort of poetry volume that is likely to win prizes" believe me, I quoted the fuck out of that line!