To review or not to review? Julie Myerson opines, in Mortification

Monday, January 6, 2014

The world is divided into novelists who do and novelists who don't. I don't blame the ones who don't: it's not well paid and it's the quickest way to make enemies this side of the divorce courts. Incest some people call it; others denounce you as a hack. Why, they ask, just because you write books, should you want to review them? But if you write fiction yourself, I'd reply, what could possibly be more satisfying and exciting than the chance to respond in print to the work of your contemporaries? At its best, it's an exhilarating exercise, attempting to explore in words why a novel scorched your heart.

I always do think of it as a response, not a judgment. Part of a feisty, ongoing dialogue—words fired at words. But I know I'm fooling myself. The dialogue can quickly turn to war. So I'm careful. I don't review my friends or authors whose work I already know I don't like. And I start every novel with a sense of hope. But then sometimes, for all your optimism, you just don't like it. And then, yes, you have to say so. But as a novelist myself—who knows how it feels to have your life force sucked out by the crushing power of a bad review—how do I ever justify pulling another author's work apart?

— Julie Myerson in Mortification: Writers' Stories of Their Public Shame


Serena said...

I really love that's so true

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