Speechwriting: Corporate, Weddings, Retirement

9/4/12

"How Is the Critic Free?" My response to the Paris Review

Today's Paris Review article, How Is the Critic Free? by Caleb Crain asks,"A non-question has recently preoccupied the literary corners of the Internet: How rude should a book critic be?"

Rudeness for its own sake is arrogance.

There have been times I have been without mercy as I review (800+ reviews on Amazon and elsewhere), but never rude. Rudeness, albeit the MO of the Snark Generation, and however cute, funny, witty (think Dorothy Parker), is using the gift of writing as a tool of hate. It doesn't look like hate, and isn't shaped like hate, but the ad hominem denigration by a reviewer toward the author is not love. There is more than enough for the intelligent negative critique without spewing rudeness from whatever cave or rock we reviewers hide under. A review, ultimately, is opinion.

Caleb Crain, the article's author asserts: "It’s impossible to find a universal rule that licenses rudeness." Sure there is: "Love your neighbor." Or, if quoting Jesus Christ leaves a sour taste, a secular version says, "One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself."

What do you think?
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