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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Art of Bad Reviews

We live in a time when bad reviews might be needed more than ever. I was listening to an NPR segment on the art of bad reviews and there is actually an award for the best hatchet job of the year. Someone who wrote the most insightful if not literate if not well written if not cutting review. In the age of the Internet one would think that the bad review would be in its heyday. There are more books being published than ever before and more people reviewing them. So why do they say the book review is in trouble.

What they are referring to is the day when there was only the book review written by trained critics. There really were only a handful. In fiction you have Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Library Journal, Booklist, New York Times. After that it is whatever paper still has a book section. In the old days there were these select critics and one could make a case that the art of the bad book review was in its heyday. But with the splintering of the Literary community into parts and the the rise of the citizen reviewer the art is lost to I like or I don't like.

But I would say the art is still there. There are bad reviews out there and they are very good. And many are very trenchant in their interpretation of the book and some are brilliant. My point is the same person who can write a good bad review can write a good positive review. And people need to know what is good and what is bad more than ever with all the books being published.

So while the old small club of professionals may be gone...a whole new host of reviewers have sprung up to take over.

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The Pitcher

Books by William Hazelgrove