A few weeks ago, Jacob Silverman wrote a piece called “Against Enthusiasm” for Slate. His thesis? Social media and the blogosphere have made book critics & reviewers afraid of writing critical reviews.
Responses have been coming thick and fast—Roxane Gay’s piece in Salon is perhaps my favorite for her clear-eyed takedown not only of Silverman’s sexist attack on Emma Straub but his inability to contend with the actual literary work at hand. (This two-sentence takedown pretty much sums it up: “Silverman has a valid argument, but he did not treat Emma Straub like a professional. (He did, however, manage to mention who her father is and what her husband does.)”
Another note: Online culture is not “actually” very nice, as Gay notes. Authors have been known to attack reviewers in pretty nasty ways recently, including on GoodReads (one reason I don’t even visit my account there anymore—it’s become a place of total ick) and on their own blogs. Writer Justine Larbalestier has a fantastic suggestion for reviewers attacked on blogs—stop reviewing the author’s work, take down the review, and leave a note explaining why—on her own blog.
Still, I’ve been thinking about my usual reviews for the Literary Duck blog. Actually, they’re hardly ever “reviews” as such—I used to write longer ones for my former employer, a local newspaper, but that job is gone—and often, I only choose things I enjoyed to one extent or another. But I want to address a few recent books that received rave reviews from all [...]
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