shining the spotlight on short story collections
Thanks to Short Reviewer Mark for drawing my attention to this fascinating article by Molly Flatt on The Guardian’s Book’s Blog. Entitled “Criticism’s Vocabulary of Cruelty”, her premise is that reviewers seem to find it easier to write “funny negative” book reviews than, in the words of one critic she quotes, to “praise interestingly”. She notes that online reviews tend to achieve more popularity if they tend towards the funny negative; generous and positive reviews do not get cited so often. But, she cautions reviewers, would you say everything you write in a review to the author’s face? If not, perhaps you might want to rethink.
Despite our native savagery, surely there is nothing quite so pleasing as a balanced, sensitive and generous review that manages to capture the spirit of a beloved book? Maybe the problem is that the texts that really touch us engage our emotions and our passions, so that in describing them we must also reveal something of ourselves, whereas a clever slating distances us through self-consciously crafted irony and wit.
Food for thought for any reviewer. The full article is here.