Sunday, May 29, 2011

Oh yay things are working again

Blogger has been annoying me lately because I haven't been able to post. I still can't italicise or copy and paste into or out of the 'compose' window it seems.

I've published a few posts that were in my drafts box. Since writing them, I still haven't finished 'The Book of Rachael'. I am tearing my way through 'The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ' by Phillip Pullman and it's interesting to be reading the two at the same time.

So is it bad form to be scathing about a book in public like this? Is it okay to do it if the author is international and therefore distance makes you feel buffered? Is it unprofessional to bad mouth a book if the author is in Melbourne? I'm not a professional anyway but do I need to be careful about opinion? Because that's all it is. Reviewers are brutal often, so I can be, can't I?

What do you think? Is it a case of 'if you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all?' Then you have no texture...

7 comments:

Alex said...

I'm probably not the person to answer this question but: I think you should just say what's on your mind while being as honest as you can. My philosophy for creating things for the consumption of others is as follows:

1) Expect harsh criticism and/or total indifference.
2) Don't let it upset you.*
3) Learn from it, when applicable.

*If you do something primarily for the adulation of others, you are in trouble.

MG said...

I agree Alex but when you are talking about something like a book that a person has put so much into, how sensitive should another person (comme moi)be? Someone who is not a reviewer and not out to either create a reaction or destroy/bolster a career (not that those are the only reasons a person writes a review).

I mean is it okay to say something is execrable? Even when it's only your opinion and others may disagree and that's fine? Do you put that word to someone's baby and make it public?

Alex said...

is it okay to say something is execrable?

In my opinion? Yes. Others may feel differently, but, in all I do, I value honest criticism way way more than shallow praise. Just so long as you explain why you think it's execrable. And remember, you don't have to comment on a person when you comment on their work.

For instance: "This author shouldn't write any more books like this, 'cause this one's shit", is more snark than review.

Thems my thoughts on the matter, anyway.

MG said...

I think that's my tendency, to produce snark rather than review. I just can't be bothered the time and effort to review something 'properly' so taking that into account, what do you think?

Alex said...

If you don't want to get into critical analysis, you can limit yourself to talking about your reactions. So, instead of saying, "It was shit. This was bad, that was bad, this other bit was well done, but the ending was rubbish" (which can leave people thinking, "Why was it shit? What was wrong with this and that bit and how was the other bit different? Where did the ending go wrong?); you could say, "I didn't enjoy this at all. This bit bored me and this bit confused me, but I got really excited during this bit and thought the approach to this was clever. Unfortunately the ending made me feel cheated and let-down".

In some ways, I think this raw emotional feedback is the best, because it's as honest as it can be. Sometimes, when you analyse, you make false assumptions about the elements you're reacting to and unwittingly praise or criticise the wrong bits. Like when people sometimes go on about an actor when much of what they're reacting to is the writing/directing/music/photography/etc.

MG said...

Hm good advice Alex, thanks.

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