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.