Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Everyone's a Critic

I picked up Kate Atkinson's new book One Good Turn last night, and was reading along happily when, gulp, I read...

Wait, let me back up for a sec. Let me just say that I'm a big fan of Kate Atkinson. Really loved her book Behind the Scenes at the Museum, which was a sort of sprawling, family drama with a wicked sense of humor. Then I read and liked Case Histories, which was a sort of literary murder mystery. So I was happy to see this book, and I'm liking it, too.

So I'm on page 11--enjoying her sense of humor--where she's describing her character Martin Canning, a mild-mannered mystery writer, and his work. She's describing his novels, talking about his seventh:

"The seventh was "darker", everyone seemed to agree ("Blake is finally moving toward a more mature noir style," "a reader" had written on Amazon. Everyone's a critic.)"

Ouch. That Amazon critic sounds like me. Ah, well, it's true. Everyone with a laptop and some free blogging software is a critic these days.

But the writer Mary Gordon (in the NY Times) said, “I subscribe to the theory that a good review makes you feel good for seven minutes, and a bad review makes you feel miserable for seven years,” and I have to respect that (see the very interesting article)

So that is part of the reason why I am a gentle reader. I really don't write about things I don't like. What's the point? Why waste the mental energy? However, that isn't to say that I'm always 100% nice...

Hmmm, I wonder what Kate would think...

1 comment:

Trish said...

"I really don't write about things I don't like. What's the point? Why waste the mental energy? However, that isn't to say that I'm always 100% nice..."

Very interesting. :) I find sometimes in my own 'reviews' that I will focus more on the shortcomings of a book rather than the strengths. I'm not sure why this is--but I find myself also looking for the shortcomings in others' reviews (and even on Amazon I'll read the lowest rankings rather than the highest rankings). This certainly gives me something to ponder the rest of the day!