Jennifer's Journal


Saturday, January 07, 2012

Irresponsible Reviews

Review, def., Webster’s Unabridged: “to give or write a critical discussion (of a book, play, etc.)”
Critical, def., Webster’s Unabridged: “characterized by careful analysis.”

Most literary reviews these days, whether in print or online, are thoughtful studies of the books they present.  But some are not. A disturbing trend showing up online is for anonymous, high-decibel opinion pieces masquerading as reviews. Marked by casual grammar, vicious language and an abundance of exclamation points, these posts make no attempt at balanced story analysis. They simply attack the work, and the author, that’s been chosen for special disdain.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion, of course; they are also entitled to put that opinion online. But holding a writer’s work up to extended scorn is cyber-bullying of the worst kind. No author’s work, good, bad or indifferent, deserves that treatment. Add that authors are prevented by tradition from challenging such comments, and the problem is compounded.  

Yet my main concern here is the lack of responsibility. Veteran authors can shrug off unfavorable mention, but beginners lack the thick skin that allows it. Ultra sensitive beginners—and what new author is not super-sensitive?are all too likely to internalize poisonous comments as truth. Do these bloggers not care who they hurt or the harm they do to budding careers? Have they no concept of the possible consequences? Will they have to be named in a suicide note before they stop?

Something to think about next time you run across one of these posts.

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Blogger a bit of earth said...

Thank you for bringing up this disturbing trend. Forewarned is forearmed, and hopefully warnings like this will help new authors to understand that this type of negativity is meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

A bad review can contain helpful criticism that would aid the author in making corrections to future editions and future works. However, there is a growing propensity to attack an author personally while reviewing, and this is never appropriate.

9:51 AM  

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