Speaking of Everything on the Internet


So we talked about writers posting on the net, now I want to draw your attention to a really excellent article about reviews on the internet. Unfortunately, the article itself is not online, it’s in the latest issue of Cemetery Dance magazine (issue #63).

Ed Gorman, author of The Midnight Room and Sleeping Dogs, has a laugh-out-loud funny piece on savage reviews. I kid you not, this was the best laugh I’ve had in weeks. But let me share this with you:

Not only do all writers get bad reviews, all writers eventually get savage reviews. I can usually tell in the first two paragraphs if the writer in question is going to be eviscerated, and if that’s the case I quit reading. I do this even when I don’t personally like the writer. Nobody deserves some of the nastier reviews I’ve seen. A writer I don’t know but admire got laid to waste in the Washington Post several years ago. I got his e-mail and wrote: “Did you sleep with his wife or something?” He wrote back: “Not yet. But now I’m sure as hell going to.”

He recalls with shame writing an apparently scorching review himself some years ago as an editor, calling himself a bully for doing it.

Some of the best comes later in the form of anecdotes about Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal slugging it out in the green room of the Dick Cavett Show. When Mailer asked Vidal to apologize, Vidal is said to have replied, “I’d apologize if it hurts your feelings.” I’m still snickering.

He quotes Lilith Saintcrow talking about how the internet is awash with self-appointed literary critics who get a small following of sycophants, whose sole purpose in life seems to be belittling others. One of the folks who comes here occasionally had a savage review once after a story was published. It hurt. But I’m sure the reviewer felt quite superior for posting it.  I guess the best course of action is don’t read reviews, unless you know the reviewer and respect her opinion, cause you know what they say about opinions.

Anyway, the rest of the article (and the magazine) is really good, pick it up if you get a chance.

Advertisements

14 thoughts on “Speaking of Everything on the Internet

  1. “Did you sleep with his wife or something?” He wrote back: “Not yet. But now I’m sure as hell going to.”

    LOVE IT. 🙂

    I love the books by Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child and on their website they have this section called, “Rogue’s Gallery”, where they post bad reviews they’ve received. It definitely pays to have a sense of humor about such things. 🙂

    “He quotes Lilith Saintcrow talking about how the internet is awash with self-appointed literary critics who get a small following of sycophants, whose sole purpose in life seems to be belittling others”

    Indeed. And there’s a huge difference between a critique and all out trashing something.

    Like

  2. It’s like something MaryJ said the other day, about literary snobbery. I think the ones who write the really scathing reviews think it makes them better/smarter/wittier/whatever than the work they’re shredding.

    I got an e-mail on my Facebook page the other from a magazine asking for people to do book reviews for them (people who had ‘liked’ the magazine, I guess). They were offering $5/review, and I thought, what kind of reviews are they going to get for $5? I don’t think I’m qualified to review books, all I could do is say if I liked a book or not. I thought it was kind of an odd request, and I bet they’ll get a few butts who want to tear something apart to make themselves look smart.

    Like

  3. One of my brothers (you know him as OceanFish) is a very good amateur photographer – so good that once, a long time ago, he got a layout AND a cover in a little amateur phtography journal (no $$, just bragging rights.) Now maybe it’s b/c I’m related to the guy and I’ve been seeing his stuff since we were kids, but I will tell you that like ’em or not, these were technically proficient photos of perfectly innocuous suubject matter – nothing racy, or shocking, or remotely controversial. Yet somehow, his pix SO DISTURBED a number of readers that they wrote to the publisher and cancelled their subscriptions!!!! All I can figure is that these folks were like the mean critics – they couldn’t stand the fact that somebody else got some attention.

    The only time I can justify trashing something is if the content is somehow hateful: racist, classist, misogynist – then I’d think nothing of taking the writer out behind the woodshed, but I assure you that I’d make it clear what was bugging me. That waylikeminded readers would know to avoid it, and those who hadn’t thought about it in that light mind have the chance to consider what was going on.

    Like

  4. “I think the ones who write the really scathing reviews think it makes them better/smarter/wittier/whatever than the work they’re shredding.”

    Bingo!

    Mary J,

    Some people are simply ridiculous.

    Did either of you hear about the family who made an ice sculpture of the Venus de Milo last winter? Some loon of a neighbor complained…

    here it is: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8551528.stm

    Like

    1. Oh for god’s sake… Only in America! It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. (edited to add:) Can you imagine if she’d done Michelangelo’s David???

      Like

      1. Indeed. You’d never, ever hear about something like that in Germany. If someone did actually complain about something like that here, I think the police would give them a huge warning never to bother them again!

        Like

    2. I remember that – it was all over our local news. The thing that bugs me about my home country is that many, many parents are really lenient about inappropriately sexual dress & behavior among real young kids, but they’ll blow a gasket over a snow sculpture with boobies.

      Like

  5. Holy crap! What was it, some kind of members-only club that only permits other members to be published? That’s a first, never heard of that happening.

    The only thing about taking on the ignorant ones like that is their attitudes generally can’t be reasoned with. They’re so ingrained, and come out of their own fears and insecurities, talk alone is seldom enough to do any good.

    Like

    1. I don’t think the periodical itself was “members only,” but some of the readership seemed to feel that way. I can’t remember if they included any biographical info, but maybe they did and it bugged the longtimers that a young guy barely out of college got his stuff on the cover before any of them. In any event, you know my family – we all consider an insult, coming from a particular type of closeminded idiot, to be the same thing as a compliment, Rosie & I were chuckling last week over a student who “reviewed” me at RateMyProfessor.com, and described to me, by way of a warning to others, as a “Hard Core Feminist.” I can’t remember when I’ve been so flattered! 🙂

      Like

Comments are closed.