Everyone’s a critic

Winter_barbiesnow_copysm_4       From Loretta:
      
      From the hearts and flowers of Valentine’s Day to the heartbreak of criticism.
      Let me start by saying that Maureen Dowd, whose columns I usually enjoy, got my dander up with a recent one about Chick Lit, where she–who I thought was hipper than this–used that hoary old cliché of “bodice ripper,” in referring to…um…my genre.  She devoted the column to generally putting down all those jillions of books written primarily by women primarily for women.  All those books with HEA endings.  Books where the women are at least as important as the men. 

      So I sighed and turned to the shelves of my library, where I usually go for comforting.  Well, I go for comforting to chocolate, too, but I’m trying to be erudite, here.
      Sl_johnson_readingjoshua_reynoldssm It could be worse, viz:
      “Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good,” wrote Samuel Johnson to some unfortunate aspiring author.
      As is the case with actors, musicians, and any other artists and craftspeople, the writer’s life  is not for the faint of heart or thin of skin.  And yet no matter how long one has been in this business, a negative review or harsh critique–or a sweeping dismissal of a whole genre–can cut one to the quick.  Some of the wounds might take a long time to heal.
      I often take comfort–though not very much–in knowing that it happens to everyone, even the greats.
      Robertburns “Critics!  Appalled I ventured on the name,
      Those cutthroat bandits in the paths of fame,” wrote Robert Burns.
      

Even Byron, who seemed not to give a damn what anyone thought of him, did care.  Criticism stung, and he felt it, as is made clear in English Bards and Scotch Reviewers:Byronsm_2
      “A man must serve his time to ev’ry trade
      Save censure–critics all are ready made.
      ….as soon
      Seek roses in December, ice in June;
      Hope constancy in wind, or corn in chaff;
      Believe a woman or an epitaph,
      Or any other thing that’s false, before
      You trust in critics…”
      Yes, if you cut us we bleed, most of us; some more than others.
      As Byron demonstrates, it doesn’t matter if the criticism is patently unfair–or even insane.  Anyone who’s browsed the Amazon reviews has come across utterly demented reviews, or ones written by persons who obviously have Issues.  I read one recently–not of my book, because, to preserve my sanity, I stopped reading Amazon reviews of my books some years ago–but of a historical novel.  The alleged reviewer gave the book the worst possible rating because–are you ready?–he didn’t approve of the behavior of its historical personages.  Meanwhile, everyone else gave the book the high rating it deserved.  But that one nutty review reduced the number of stars.  And I’m still ticked about it–even though it wasn’t my book!–so irritated, in fact, by this one idiotic comment, out of dozens of rational ones, that I’ll probably stop reading Amazon reviews of everyone’s books.
      But there are no rules about critics and never were.
      Even reviews in periodicals, (yes, even my beloved New Yorker) even those written by scholars or other famously knowledgeable persons, can be unfair or demented.  I have read movie reviews by respected critics and wondered if the reviewer and I saw the same movie.  I have read others and realized that the reviewer wasn’t critiquing the movie he or she saw but was peeved because it wasn’t the version of the story the critic wanted told or told as he/she imagined it ought to be.  Some criticize an actress’s looks instead of her acting.  Yet hardly anyone seems to notice, as I do, let alone comment on, the abundance and absurdity of all those Gidget and Geezer movies:  middle-aged or older hero and the girl young enough to be his daughter, if not his granddaughter.
      Chick Lit, according to Ms. Dowd, is laughable, a sad commentary on our times and our shallowness–and Gidget & Geezer is not?
      But yes, I’ve read fair reviews, too, and ones that taught me something–about the art form or the performers or the composers or painters.  As an English major in college, I read reams and reams of criticism, and learned from it.  I learned how to think critically, too, which included questioning the authority of those who critiqued.  I learned that fashions in criticism come and go.
      Woman_writing And one thing I’ve learned is that it’s always been fashionable to mock the work of women writers, especially those writing popular fiction.
      When Lady Morgan published Italy in 1821, “the wolves were out,” according to Paul Johnson’s The Birth of the Modern.  “Byron hailed the book as ‘fearless and excellent’ in the Quarterly.”  Everyone else went insane, apparently.  One critic wanted “a Royal Commission to inquire into her age” and “demanded that the Irish law officers begin an investigation to see if the knighthoods bestowed on her husband and brother-in-law…were illegal.”  William Hazlitt said “women had no business involving themselves in art history and criticism.”  Someone else called her “‘a monstrous literary abortion.’”  “She was ‘an Irish she-wolf’ a ‘blustering virago.’”  Virago Any wonder why so many women wrote anonymously or pseudonymously?
      Lady Morgan’s critics might not have minded so much if she hadn’t been so hugely popular.  Her novel, The Wild Irish Girl, made thousands and went into seven editions.  For the maligned Italy, she was paid £2000, an enormous sum in those days, especially for a woman to earn.
      Maureen Dowd’s comments about Chick Lit are not merely mild by comparison; they are tantamount to high praise.
      Thank you, History, for providing perspective, as always.
      What do you think about reviews and reviewers?  Help or hindrance?  Annoyance?  Source of guidance?  Or do you ignore them altogether?
      

100 thoughts on “Everyone’s a critic”

  1. Oh, Loretta, what a wonderfully, horribly true blog! I’m surprised at Maureen Dowd, too, but then she’s just treading a very worn path. Just like you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink, so you can send a “serious” critic a romance novel, but you can’t make him (or her) see the value of a happy ending written by a woman. Arrgghhh!
    Likewise, you’re a wise woman not to read the Amazon so-called reviews. I, alas, can’t keep away from them any more than I can keep my tongue away from a cavity. I may be flattering myself (hah), but I’m guessing that the one-star review you meant begins: “Both Sarah and John Churchill were opportunists and traitors….” and continues cheerfully downward from there. Can’t wait to see what this fine critic makes of Lady Castlemaine! *g*

    Reply
  2. Oh, Loretta, what a wonderfully, horribly true blog! I’m surprised at Maureen Dowd, too, but then she’s just treading a very worn path. Just like you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink, so you can send a “serious” critic a romance novel, but you can’t make him (or her) see the value of a happy ending written by a woman. Arrgghhh!
    Likewise, you’re a wise woman not to read the Amazon so-called reviews. I, alas, can’t keep away from them any more than I can keep my tongue away from a cavity. I may be flattering myself (hah), but I’m guessing that the one-star review you meant begins: “Both Sarah and John Churchill were opportunists and traitors….” and continues cheerfully downward from there. Can’t wait to see what this fine critic makes of Lady Castlemaine! *g*

    Reply
  3. Oh, Loretta, what a wonderfully, horribly true blog! I’m surprised at Maureen Dowd, too, but then she’s just treading a very worn path. Just like you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink, so you can send a “serious” critic a romance novel, but you can’t make him (or her) see the value of a happy ending written by a woman. Arrgghhh!
    Likewise, you’re a wise woman not to read the Amazon so-called reviews. I, alas, can’t keep away from them any more than I can keep my tongue away from a cavity. I may be flattering myself (hah), but I’m guessing that the one-star review you meant begins: “Both Sarah and John Churchill were opportunists and traitors….” and continues cheerfully downward from there. Can’t wait to see what this fine critic makes of Lady Castlemaine! *g*

    Reply
  4. Oh, Loretta, what a wonderfully, horribly true blog! I’m surprised at Maureen Dowd, too, but then she’s just treading a very worn path. Just like you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink, so you can send a “serious” critic a romance novel, but you can’t make him (or her) see the value of a happy ending written by a woman. Arrgghhh!
    Likewise, you’re a wise woman not to read the Amazon so-called reviews. I, alas, can’t keep away from them any more than I can keep my tongue away from a cavity. I may be flattering myself (hah), but I’m guessing that the one-star review you meant begins: “Both Sarah and John Churchill were opportunists and traitors….” and continues cheerfully downward from there. Can’t wait to see what this fine critic makes of Lady Castlemaine! *g*

    Reply
  5. Didn’t Dowd write that she purchased a bunch of those “pink” covered books, just to check them out?
    I buy books according to what I like, which is pretty eclectic. I use the Amazon reviews to refresh my memory of what happens in books I have read and to learn about what happens in those I haven’t.
    Kay

    Reply
  6. Didn’t Dowd write that she purchased a bunch of those “pink” covered books, just to check them out?
    I buy books according to what I like, which is pretty eclectic. I use the Amazon reviews to refresh my memory of what happens in books I have read and to learn about what happens in those I haven’t.
    Kay

    Reply
  7. Didn’t Dowd write that she purchased a bunch of those “pink” covered books, just to check them out?
    I buy books according to what I like, which is pretty eclectic. I use the Amazon reviews to refresh my memory of what happens in books I have read and to learn about what happens in those I haven’t.
    Kay

    Reply
  8. Didn’t Dowd write that she purchased a bunch of those “pink” covered books, just to check them out?
    I buy books according to what I like, which is pretty eclectic. I use the Amazon reviews to refresh my memory of what happens in books I have read and to learn about what happens in those I haven’t.
    Kay

    Reply
  9. Susan/Miranda, you guessed correctly. I did not want to mention it in the main post because it ought to be buried in oblivion.
    Kay–she did buy them, so the authors profited–and she did read them, which is more than many who diss various women’s genres do. But “bodice ripper?” Puh-leeze. When was the last time this actually happened in a romance? How often did it ever happen?

    Reply
  10. Susan/Miranda, you guessed correctly. I did not want to mention it in the main post because it ought to be buried in oblivion.
    Kay–she did buy them, so the authors profited–and she did read them, which is more than many who diss various women’s genres do. But “bodice ripper?” Puh-leeze. When was the last time this actually happened in a romance? How often did it ever happen?

    Reply
  11. Susan/Miranda, you guessed correctly. I did not want to mention it in the main post because it ought to be buried in oblivion.
    Kay–she did buy them, so the authors profited–and she did read them, which is more than many who diss various women’s genres do. But “bodice ripper?” Puh-leeze. When was the last time this actually happened in a romance? How often did it ever happen?

    Reply
  12. Susan/Miranda, you guessed correctly. I did not want to mention it in the main post because it ought to be buried in oblivion.
    Kay–she did buy them, so the authors profited–and she did read them, which is more than many who diss various women’s genres do. But “bodice ripper?” Puh-leeze. When was the last time this actually happened in a romance? How often did it ever happen?

    Reply
  13. I never read Amazon reviews, and the NYT Review of Books does not make it here to the hinterland. I do, however, pay attention to other romance readers I know from message boards and sites such as the wonderful Wenches.
    You have to be open to the romance genre for your opinion to count. I don’t want a grumpy person with a head cold and stuffy nose picking out my perfume.
    Your post just proves, Loretta, the more things change, the more they stay the same!

    Reply
  14. I never read Amazon reviews, and the NYT Review of Books does not make it here to the hinterland. I do, however, pay attention to other romance readers I know from message boards and sites such as the wonderful Wenches.
    You have to be open to the romance genre for your opinion to count. I don’t want a grumpy person with a head cold and stuffy nose picking out my perfume.
    Your post just proves, Loretta, the more things change, the more they stay the same!

    Reply
  15. I never read Amazon reviews, and the NYT Review of Books does not make it here to the hinterland. I do, however, pay attention to other romance readers I know from message boards and sites such as the wonderful Wenches.
    You have to be open to the romance genre for your opinion to count. I don’t want a grumpy person with a head cold and stuffy nose picking out my perfume.
    Your post just proves, Loretta, the more things change, the more they stay the same!

    Reply
  16. I never read Amazon reviews, and the NYT Review of Books does not make it here to the hinterland. I do, however, pay attention to other romance readers I know from message boards and sites such as the wonderful Wenches.
    You have to be open to the romance genre for your opinion to count. I don’t want a grumpy person with a head cold and stuffy nose picking out my perfume.
    Your post just proves, Loretta, the more things change, the more they stay the same!

    Reply
  17. I should have mentioned that the Amazon editorial reviews are another category altogether, and these are useful, as Kay points out, to find out what the books about–and yes, whether one’s read them or not. And in case I didn’t make it clear, most of the reader reviews are thoughtful and rational–but we writers tend to focus on the troublesome ones–as Susan/Miranda says, it’s like worrying a sore tooth.

    Reply
  18. I should have mentioned that the Amazon editorial reviews are another category altogether, and these are useful, as Kay points out, to find out what the books about–and yes, whether one’s read them or not. And in case I didn’t make it clear, most of the reader reviews are thoughtful and rational–but we writers tend to focus on the troublesome ones–as Susan/Miranda says, it’s like worrying a sore tooth.

    Reply
  19. I should have mentioned that the Amazon editorial reviews are another category altogether, and these are useful, as Kay points out, to find out what the books about–and yes, whether one’s read them or not. And in case I didn’t make it clear, most of the reader reviews are thoughtful and rational–but we writers tend to focus on the troublesome ones–as Susan/Miranda says, it’s like worrying a sore tooth.

    Reply
  20. I should have mentioned that the Amazon editorial reviews are another category altogether, and these are useful, as Kay points out, to find out what the books about–and yes, whether one’s read them or not. And in case I didn’t make it clear, most of the reader reviews are thoughtful and rational–but we writers tend to focus on the troublesome ones–as Susan/Miranda says, it’s like worrying a sore tooth.

    Reply
  21. Maggie, I too, like the give and take on the message boards. As you said, these are people open to the romance genre. This makes it a bit easier, perhaps, to shrug off reviews I don’t agree with. For the most part, at least the critic’s heart is in the right place, and likes and dislikes are more a matter of taste than an ideology.

    Reply
  22. Maggie, I too, like the give and take on the message boards. As you said, these are people open to the romance genre. This makes it a bit easier, perhaps, to shrug off reviews I don’t agree with. For the most part, at least the critic’s heart is in the right place, and likes and dislikes are more a matter of taste than an ideology.

    Reply
  23. Maggie, I too, like the give and take on the message boards. As you said, these are people open to the romance genre. This makes it a bit easier, perhaps, to shrug off reviews I don’t agree with. For the most part, at least the critic’s heart is in the right place, and likes and dislikes are more a matter of taste than an ideology.

    Reply
  24. Maggie, I too, like the give and take on the message boards. As you said, these are people open to the romance genre. This makes it a bit easier, perhaps, to shrug off reviews I don’t agree with. For the most part, at least the critic’s heart is in the right place, and likes and dislikes are more a matter of taste than an ideology.

    Reply
  25. WONDERFUL post, Loretta! So, so true. I love your phrase “Gidget & Geezer,” since it so neatly defines the kind of pairing that makes me want to grind my teeth.
    I’ll read Amazon reviews of other books to get a general sense of the story–but never reviews of my own books. I’m no masochist!
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  26. WONDERFUL post, Loretta! So, so true. I love your phrase “Gidget & Geezer,” since it so neatly defines the kind of pairing that makes me want to grind my teeth.
    I’ll read Amazon reviews of other books to get a general sense of the story–but never reviews of my own books. I’m no masochist!
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  27. WONDERFUL post, Loretta! So, so true. I love your phrase “Gidget & Geezer,” since it so neatly defines the kind of pairing that makes me want to grind my teeth.
    I’ll read Amazon reviews of other books to get a general sense of the story–but never reviews of my own books. I’m no masochist!
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  28. WONDERFUL post, Loretta! So, so true. I love your phrase “Gidget & Geezer,” since it so neatly defines the kind of pairing that makes me want to grind my teeth.
    I’ll read Amazon reviews of other books to get a general sense of the story–but never reviews of my own books. I’m no masochist!
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  29. My favorite fiction reviews to revile are those that claim that the situations in the book would never happen in real life. Helloooo? FICTION? As in “not real”? Made-up? Spun from someone’s imagination? Some people just can’t seem to get the distinction.
    I love fiction BECAUSE it is made-up…gotta have my happy endings 😀 I get enough reality in the real world :Þ

    Reply
  30. My favorite fiction reviews to revile are those that claim that the situations in the book would never happen in real life. Helloooo? FICTION? As in “not real”? Made-up? Spun from someone’s imagination? Some people just can’t seem to get the distinction.
    I love fiction BECAUSE it is made-up…gotta have my happy endings 😀 I get enough reality in the real world :Þ

    Reply
  31. My favorite fiction reviews to revile are those that claim that the situations in the book would never happen in real life. Helloooo? FICTION? As in “not real”? Made-up? Spun from someone’s imagination? Some people just can’t seem to get the distinction.
    I love fiction BECAUSE it is made-up…gotta have my happy endings 😀 I get enough reality in the real world :Þ

    Reply
  32. My favorite fiction reviews to revile are those that claim that the situations in the book would never happen in real life. Helloooo? FICTION? As in “not real”? Made-up? Spun from someone’s imagination? Some people just can’t seem to get the distinction.
    I love fiction BECAUSE it is made-up…gotta have my happy endings 😀 I get enough reality in the real world :Þ

    Reply
  33. I guessed it was DUCHESS just because I’m “susan-centric”, Loretta. Unfortunately it could have been any number of other books on Amazon. There’s one self-proclaimed “reading group” out there that seems to delight in trashing books because they deem the heroines to be immoral — especially the ones that are based on real women. From their quotes, I don’t think they even bother reading the books, let alone buying them.
    Oh, well, what can you do? It’s **stuff** like that that makes writers really cherish & appreciate the comments from readers who do understand and like our books. 🙂

    Reply
  34. I guessed it was DUCHESS just because I’m “susan-centric”, Loretta. Unfortunately it could have been any number of other books on Amazon. There’s one self-proclaimed “reading group” out there that seems to delight in trashing books because they deem the heroines to be immoral — especially the ones that are based on real women. From their quotes, I don’t think they even bother reading the books, let alone buying them.
    Oh, well, what can you do? It’s **stuff** like that that makes writers really cherish & appreciate the comments from readers who do understand and like our books. 🙂

    Reply
  35. I guessed it was DUCHESS just because I’m “susan-centric”, Loretta. Unfortunately it could have been any number of other books on Amazon. There’s one self-proclaimed “reading group” out there that seems to delight in trashing books because they deem the heroines to be immoral — especially the ones that are based on real women. From their quotes, I don’t think they even bother reading the books, let alone buying them.
    Oh, well, what can you do? It’s **stuff** like that that makes writers really cherish & appreciate the comments from readers who do understand and like our books. 🙂

    Reply
  36. I guessed it was DUCHESS just because I’m “susan-centric”, Loretta. Unfortunately it could have been any number of other books on Amazon. There’s one self-proclaimed “reading group” out there that seems to delight in trashing books because they deem the heroines to be immoral — especially the ones that are based on real women. From their quotes, I don’t think they even bother reading the books, let alone buying them.
    Oh, well, what can you do? It’s **stuff** like that that makes writers really cherish & appreciate the comments from readers who do understand and like our books. 🙂

    Reply
  37. If I read a review it’s not going to have an impact on whether or not I read (or watch) something. I make up my own mind by what it says on the back of the book.
    I make my own judgements as well. If someone asks my opinion of something I’ll give it, but I sure don’t expect them to feel the same way ’cause they’re not me.
    But all the same, reviews like the one that you mentioned Loretta tick me off; namely because the review is not about what is written, it’s a personal rant that’s often uninformed. For a reviewer to do that shows a very unprofessional side.
    You ladies have nothing to worry about ~ all intelligent readers know that romance, regardless of the sub-genre, is fulfilling, enjoyable, entertaining and always something to say! *grin*

    Reply
  38. If I read a review it’s not going to have an impact on whether or not I read (or watch) something. I make up my own mind by what it says on the back of the book.
    I make my own judgements as well. If someone asks my opinion of something I’ll give it, but I sure don’t expect them to feel the same way ’cause they’re not me.
    But all the same, reviews like the one that you mentioned Loretta tick me off; namely because the review is not about what is written, it’s a personal rant that’s often uninformed. For a reviewer to do that shows a very unprofessional side.
    You ladies have nothing to worry about ~ all intelligent readers know that romance, regardless of the sub-genre, is fulfilling, enjoyable, entertaining and always something to say! *grin*

    Reply
  39. If I read a review it’s not going to have an impact on whether or not I read (or watch) something. I make up my own mind by what it says on the back of the book.
    I make my own judgements as well. If someone asks my opinion of something I’ll give it, but I sure don’t expect them to feel the same way ’cause they’re not me.
    But all the same, reviews like the one that you mentioned Loretta tick me off; namely because the review is not about what is written, it’s a personal rant that’s often uninformed. For a reviewer to do that shows a very unprofessional side.
    You ladies have nothing to worry about ~ all intelligent readers know that romance, regardless of the sub-genre, is fulfilling, enjoyable, entertaining and always something to say! *grin*

    Reply
  40. If I read a review it’s not going to have an impact on whether or not I read (or watch) something. I make up my own mind by what it says on the back of the book.
    I make my own judgements as well. If someone asks my opinion of something I’ll give it, but I sure don’t expect them to feel the same way ’cause they’re not me.
    But all the same, reviews like the one that you mentioned Loretta tick me off; namely because the review is not about what is written, it’s a personal rant that’s often uninformed. For a reviewer to do that shows a very unprofessional side.
    You ladies have nothing to worry about ~ all intelligent readers know that romance, regardless of the sub-genre, is fulfilling, enjoyable, entertaining and always something to say! *grin*

    Reply
  41. Hi !
    I read reviews but they can’t influence me. And turning to the romance genre, I prefer to read reviews made by people who loves the genre and not all theses pretentious persons who are here to judge you and told you that you read or write “bullshit”…They are so numerous here in France, believe me !

    Reply
  42. Hi !
    I read reviews but they can’t influence me. And turning to the romance genre, I prefer to read reviews made by people who loves the genre and not all theses pretentious persons who are here to judge you and told you that you read or write “bullshit”…They are so numerous here in France, believe me !

    Reply
  43. Hi !
    I read reviews but they can’t influence me. And turning to the romance genre, I prefer to read reviews made by people who loves the genre and not all theses pretentious persons who are here to judge you and told you that you read or write “bullshit”…They are so numerous here in France, believe me !

    Reply
  44. Hi !
    I read reviews but they can’t influence me. And turning to the romance genre, I prefer to read reviews made by people who loves the genre and not all theses pretentious persons who are here to judge you and told you that you read or write “bullshit”…They are so numerous here in France, believe me !

    Reply
  45. I have a college degree and am a Mensan and I love Romance Novels. How come nobody disses other sub-genres, like sci-fi? Could it be because they are not written for women by women? I read, go to movies, watch television, and listen to music for entertainment- not for self improvement, guilt trips, indoctrination, or other motives. I just want entertainment. Therefore, I know that if Siskel and Eberg don’t like it- I will. Likewise, I stay away from books that “every American should read” or that are “gritty, realistic portrayals” or other cliches of criticsm that indicate a non-entertaining book or film. And Loretta- don’t you wish you could critique the critics? Some of the reviewers don’t even write a review very well…

    Reply
  46. I have a college degree and am a Mensan and I love Romance Novels. How come nobody disses other sub-genres, like sci-fi? Could it be because they are not written for women by women? I read, go to movies, watch television, and listen to music for entertainment- not for self improvement, guilt trips, indoctrination, or other motives. I just want entertainment. Therefore, I know that if Siskel and Eberg don’t like it- I will. Likewise, I stay away from books that “every American should read” or that are “gritty, realistic portrayals” or other cliches of criticsm that indicate a non-entertaining book or film. And Loretta- don’t you wish you could critique the critics? Some of the reviewers don’t even write a review very well…

    Reply
  47. I have a college degree and am a Mensan and I love Romance Novels. How come nobody disses other sub-genres, like sci-fi? Could it be because they are not written for women by women? I read, go to movies, watch television, and listen to music for entertainment- not for self improvement, guilt trips, indoctrination, or other motives. I just want entertainment. Therefore, I know that if Siskel and Eberg don’t like it- I will. Likewise, I stay away from books that “every American should read” or that are “gritty, realistic portrayals” or other cliches of criticsm that indicate a non-entertaining book or film. And Loretta- don’t you wish you could critique the critics? Some of the reviewers don’t even write a review very well…

    Reply
  48. I have a college degree and am a Mensan and I love Romance Novels. How come nobody disses other sub-genres, like sci-fi? Could it be because they are not written for women by women? I read, go to movies, watch television, and listen to music for entertainment- not for self improvement, guilt trips, indoctrination, or other motives. I just want entertainment. Therefore, I know that if Siskel and Eberg don’t like it- I will. Likewise, I stay away from books that “every American should read” or that are “gritty, realistic portrayals” or other cliches of criticsm that indicate a non-entertaining book or film. And Loretta- don’t you wish you could critique the critics? Some of the reviewers don’t even write a review very well…

    Reply
  49. In another life I used to be a book and movie reviewer, and my wise old writing mentor (a retired professor of English Literature) helped me develop a list of criteria by which I based my ratings. But after all is said and done, it ultimately boiled down to one thing: engage me emotionally.
    As far as what I think about book reviews and reviewers, I find them useful for the most part. The reviews in publications like Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly get more respect from me than the Amazon reviews, which are a totally different animal. The Amazon reviews are a free-for-all, and some of them are so ludicrous they are good for entertainment value only.
    Loved your Gidget and Geezer comment, Loretta! I’m in the minority, as I enjoy Gidget/Geezer movies and books. *g* (Just watched 3 back-to-back movie versions of Jane Eyre last weekend, and my favorite Heyer is These Old Shades.) *g*

    Reply
  50. In another life I used to be a book and movie reviewer, and my wise old writing mentor (a retired professor of English Literature) helped me develop a list of criteria by which I based my ratings. But after all is said and done, it ultimately boiled down to one thing: engage me emotionally.
    As far as what I think about book reviews and reviewers, I find them useful for the most part. The reviews in publications like Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly get more respect from me than the Amazon reviews, which are a totally different animal. The Amazon reviews are a free-for-all, and some of them are so ludicrous they are good for entertainment value only.
    Loved your Gidget and Geezer comment, Loretta! I’m in the minority, as I enjoy Gidget/Geezer movies and books. *g* (Just watched 3 back-to-back movie versions of Jane Eyre last weekend, and my favorite Heyer is These Old Shades.) *g*

    Reply
  51. In another life I used to be a book and movie reviewer, and my wise old writing mentor (a retired professor of English Literature) helped me develop a list of criteria by which I based my ratings. But after all is said and done, it ultimately boiled down to one thing: engage me emotionally.
    As far as what I think about book reviews and reviewers, I find them useful for the most part. The reviews in publications like Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly get more respect from me than the Amazon reviews, which are a totally different animal. The Amazon reviews are a free-for-all, and some of them are so ludicrous they are good for entertainment value only.
    Loved your Gidget and Geezer comment, Loretta! I’m in the minority, as I enjoy Gidget/Geezer movies and books. *g* (Just watched 3 back-to-back movie versions of Jane Eyre last weekend, and my favorite Heyer is These Old Shades.) *g*

    Reply
  52. In another life I used to be a book and movie reviewer, and my wise old writing mentor (a retired professor of English Literature) helped me develop a list of criteria by which I based my ratings. But after all is said and done, it ultimately boiled down to one thing: engage me emotionally.
    As far as what I think about book reviews and reviewers, I find them useful for the most part. The reviews in publications like Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly get more respect from me than the Amazon reviews, which are a totally different animal. The Amazon reviews are a free-for-all, and some of them are so ludicrous they are good for entertainment value only.
    Loved your Gidget and Geezer comment, Loretta! I’m in the minority, as I enjoy Gidget/Geezer movies and books. *g* (Just watched 3 back-to-back movie versions of Jane Eyre last weekend, and my favorite Heyer is These Old Shades.) *g*

    Reply
  53. “My favorite fiction reviews to revile are those that claim that the situations in the book would never happen in real life. Helloooo? FICTION? As in “not real”? Made-up? Spun from someone’s imagination? Some people just can’t seem to get the distinction.”
    I might be the kind of reviewer you’d dislike, JackieToo, because the author has to convince me that the events of the story COULD happen or I can’t suspend my disbelief enough to enter the world of the story. So anything from blatant historical inaccuracies to inconsistent characterization can ruin my pleasure in a story, because…I don’t believe it could actually happen. And if I don’t believe, I don’t enjoy.
    That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy genres like fantasy and paranormal where the events of the story REALLY couldn’t happen–the author just has to make the magic FEEL real by building a consistent world and giving the supernatural elements enough challenge and/or costs that they don’t seem like deus ex machina.
    I love the phrase “Gidget & Geezer” too, Loretta! I’ll have to file that away for future use.
    I read reviews, but I’m not so much looking at the grade itself as trying to figure out to what degree the reviewer’s tastes resemble mine. Some of my favorite books have gotten C or three-star reviews from major sites, but I can tell from the reviewer’s comments that whatever she didn’t like either wouldn’t bother me or would actually make me like the book more.
    I actually blogged about something like this yesterday–I started from my surprise at discovering that a fancy pizzeria I’d eaten at a few days ago and thought was the best pizza I’d ever had got quite a few negative reviews from diners who didn’t think it tasted like real pizza, and digressed from there onto contest judging and what constitutes a “good” historical romance.

    Reply
  54. “My favorite fiction reviews to revile are those that claim that the situations in the book would never happen in real life. Helloooo? FICTION? As in “not real”? Made-up? Spun from someone’s imagination? Some people just can’t seem to get the distinction.”
    I might be the kind of reviewer you’d dislike, JackieToo, because the author has to convince me that the events of the story COULD happen or I can’t suspend my disbelief enough to enter the world of the story. So anything from blatant historical inaccuracies to inconsistent characterization can ruin my pleasure in a story, because…I don’t believe it could actually happen. And if I don’t believe, I don’t enjoy.
    That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy genres like fantasy and paranormal where the events of the story REALLY couldn’t happen–the author just has to make the magic FEEL real by building a consistent world and giving the supernatural elements enough challenge and/or costs that they don’t seem like deus ex machina.
    I love the phrase “Gidget & Geezer” too, Loretta! I’ll have to file that away for future use.
    I read reviews, but I’m not so much looking at the grade itself as trying to figure out to what degree the reviewer’s tastes resemble mine. Some of my favorite books have gotten C or three-star reviews from major sites, but I can tell from the reviewer’s comments that whatever she didn’t like either wouldn’t bother me or would actually make me like the book more.
    I actually blogged about something like this yesterday–I started from my surprise at discovering that a fancy pizzeria I’d eaten at a few days ago and thought was the best pizza I’d ever had got quite a few negative reviews from diners who didn’t think it tasted like real pizza, and digressed from there onto contest judging and what constitutes a “good” historical romance.

    Reply
  55. “My favorite fiction reviews to revile are those that claim that the situations in the book would never happen in real life. Helloooo? FICTION? As in “not real”? Made-up? Spun from someone’s imagination? Some people just can’t seem to get the distinction.”
    I might be the kind of reviewer you’d dislike, JackieToo, because the author has to convince me that the events of the story COULD happen or I can’t suspend my disbelief enough to enter the world of the story. So anything from blatant historical inaccuracies to inconsistent characterization can ruin my pleasure in a story, because…I don’t believe it could actually happen. And if I don’t believe, I don’t enjoy.
    That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy genres like fantasy and paranormal where the events of the story REALLY couldn’t happen–the author just has to make the magic FEEL real by building a consistent world and giving the supernatural elements enough challenge and/or costs that they don’t seem like deus ex machina.
    I love the phrase “Gidget & Geezer” too, Loretta! I’ll have to file that away for future use.
    I read reviews, but I’m not so much looking at the grade itself as trying to figure out to what degree the reviewer’s tastes resemble mine. Some of my favorite books have gotten C or three-star reviews from major sites, but I can tell from the reviewer’s comments that whatever she didn’t like either wouldn’t bother me or would actually make me like the book more.
    I actually blogged about something like this yesterday–I started from my surprise at discovering that a fancy pizzeria I’d eaten at a few days ago and thought was the best pizza I’d ever had got quite a few negative reviews from diners who didn’t think it tasted like real pizza, and digressed from there onto contest judging and what constitutes a “good” historical romance.

    Reply
  56. “My favorite fiction reviews to revile are those that claim that the situations in the book would never happen in real life. Helloooo? FICTION? As in “not real”? Made-up? Spun from someone’s imagination? Some people just can’t seem to get the distinction.”
    I might be the kind of reviewer you’d dislike, JackieToo, because the author has to convince me that the events of the story COULD happen or I can’t suspend my disbelief enough to enter the world of the story. So anything from blatant historical inaccuracies to inconsistent characterization can ruin my pleasure in a story, because…I don’t believe it could actually happen. And if I don’t believe, I don’t enjoy.
    That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy genres like fantasy and paranormal where the events of the story REALLY couldn’t happen–the author just has to make the magic FEEL real by building a consistent world and giving the supernatural elements enough challenge and/or costs that they don’t seem like deus ex machina.
    I love the phrase “Gidget & Geezer” too, Loretta! I’ll have to file that away for future use.
    I read reviews, but I’m not so much looking at the grade itself as trying to figure out to what degree the reviewer’s tastes resemble mine. Some of my favorite books have gotten C or three-star reviews from major sites, but I can tell from the reviewer’s comments that whatever she didn’t like either wouldn’t bother me or would actually make me like the book more.
    I actually blogged about something like this yesterday–I started from my surprise at discovering that a fancy pizzeria I’d eaten at a few days ago and thought was the best pizza I’d ever had got quite a few negative reviews from diners who didn’t think it tasted like real pizza, and digressed from there onto contest judging and what constitutes a “good” historical romance.

    Reply
  57. Mary Jo-I think Gidget & Geezer can work sometimes. Like Sherrie, I liked These Old Shades, and I know this kind of pairing was normal in previous generations. But I do think Hollywood overdoes it, and being a writer, can’t help seeing it as the male writers’ fantasies. Either that or an inability to write decent roles for women–another significant difference between romance novels and other creative endeavors.
    “I love fiction BECAUSE it is made-up…gotta have my happy endings 😀 I get enough reality in the real world :Þ”
    I’m with you there. But I do think that there are people who are congenitally unable to suspend disbelief, no matter how believeable the author makes it. And those who do not read newspapers or history do not encounter the many bizarre bits of info we do–some of it so weird I couldn’t put it in a book, because, yes, no one would believe it!

    Reply
  58. Mary Jo-I think Gidget & Geezer can work sometimes. Like Sherrie, I liked These Old Shades, and I know this kind of pairing was normal in previous generations. But I do think Hollywood overdoes it, and being a writer, can’t help seeing it as the male writers’ fantasies. Either that or an inability to write decent roles for women–another significant difference between romance novels and other creative endeavors.
    “I love fiction BECAUSE it is made-up…gotta have my happy endings 😀 I get enough reality in the real world :Þ”
    I’m with you there. But I do think that there are people who are congenitally unable to suspend disbelief, no matter how believeable the author makes it. And those who do not read newspapers or history do not encounter the many bizarre bits of info we do–some of it so weird I couldn’t put it in a book, because, yes, no one would believe it!

    Reply
  59. Mary Jo-I think Gidget & Geezer can work sometimes. Like Sherrie, I liked These Old Shades, and I know this kind of pairing was normal in previous generations. But I do think Hollywood overdoes it, and being a writer, can’t help seeing it as the male writers’ fantasies. Either that or an inability to write decent roles for women–another significant difference between romance novels and other creative endeavors.
    “I love fiction BECAUSE it is made-up…gotta have my happy endings 😀 I get enough reality in the real world :Þ”
    I’m with you there. But I do think that there are people who are congenitally unable to suspend disbelief, no matter how believeable the author makes it. And those who do not read newspapers or history do not encounter the many bizarre bits of info we do–some of it so weird I couldn’t put it in a book, because, yes, no one would believe it!

    Reply
  60. Mary Jo-I think Gidget & Geezer can work sometimes. Like Sherrie, I liked These Old Shades, and I know this kind of pairing was normal in previous generations. But I do think Hollywood overdoes it, and being a writer, can’t help seeing it as the male writers’ fantasies. Either that or an inability to write decent roles for women–another significant difference between romance novels and other creative endeavors.
    “I love fiction BECAUSE it is made-up…gotta have my happy endings 😀 I get enough reality in the real world :Þ”
    I’m with you there. But I do think that there are people who are congenitally unable to suspend disbelief, no matter how believeable the author makes it. And those who do not read newspapers or history do not encounter the many bizarre bits of info we do–some of it so weird I couldn’t put it in a book, because, yes, no one would believe it!

    Reply
  61. “It’s **stuff** like that that makes writers really cherish & appreciate the comments from readers who do understand and like our books. :)”
    What Susan/Miranda said.
    “namely because the review is not about what is written, it’s a personal rant that’s often uninformed.”
    There’s a lot of uninformed ranting going on in this world, and I always suspect these are people in desperate need of attention. Along with giving us more and quicker ways to communicate, the internet also provides a soapbox for them.
    Joelle, it’s still good news that in the intense intellectual climate of France, there are unabashed romance lovers.
    “Likewise, I stay away from books that “every American should read” or that are “gritty, realistic portrayals” or other cliches of criticsm that indicate a non-entertaining book or film.”
    To me, this is an example of fashions in criticism. When I was in college, Dickens wasn’t in fashion (still isn’t, I think). That told me that great minds didn’t necessarily think alike *g*

    Reply
  62. “It’s **stuff** like that that makes writers really cherish & appreciate the comments from readers who do understand and like our books. :)”
    What Susan/Miranda said.
    “namely because the review is not about what is written, it’s a personal rant that’s often uninformed.”
    There’s a lot of uninformed ranting going on in this world, and I always suspect these are people in desperate need of attention. Along with giving us more and quicker ways to communicate, the internet also provides a soapbox for them.
    Joelle, it’s still good news that in the intense intellectual climate of France, there are unabashed romance lovers.
    “Likewise, I stay away from books that “every American should read” or that are “gritty, realistic portrayals” or other cliches of criticsm that indicate a non-entertaining book or film.”
    To me, this is an example of fashions in criticism. When I was in college, Dickens wasn’t in fashion (still isn’t, I think). That told me that great minds didn’t necessarily think alike *g*

    Reply
  63. “It’s **stuff** like that that makes writers really cherish & appreciate the comments from readers who do understand and like our books. :)”
    What Susan/Miranda said.
    “namely because the review is not about what is written, it’s a personal rant that’s often uninformed.”
    There’s a lot of uninformed ranting going on in this world, and I always suspect these are people in desperate need of attention. Along with giving us more and quicker ways to communicate, the internet also provides a soapbox for them.
    Joelle, it’s still good news that in the intense intellectual climate of France, there are unabashed romance lovers.
    “Likewise, I stay away from books that “every American should read” or that are “gritty, realistic portrayals” or other cliches of criticsm that indicate a non-entertaining book or film.”
    To me, this is an example of fashions in criticism. When I was in college, Dickens wasn’t in fashion (still isn’t, I think). That told me that great minds didn’t necessarily think alike *g*

    Reply
  64. “It’s **stuff** like that that makes writers really cherish & appreciate the comments from readers who do understand and like our books. :)”
    What Susan/Miranda said.
    “namely because the review is not about what is written, it’s a personal rant that’s often uninformed.”
    There’s a lot of uninformed ranting going on in this world, and I always suspect these are people in desperate need of attention. Along with giving us more and quicker ways to communicate, the internet also provides a soapbox for them.
    Joelle, it’s still good news that in the intense intellectual climate of France, there are unabashed romance lovers.
    “Likewise, I stay away from books that “every American should read” or that are “gritty, realistic portrayals” or other cliches of criticsm that indicate a non-entertaining book or film.”
    To me, this is an example of fashions in criticism. When I was in college, Dickens wasn’t in fashion (still isn’t, I think). That told me that great minds didn’t necessarily think alike *g*

    Reply
  65. As a reviewer (mostly nonfic, but some types of fic) and an avid reader of reviews (in print publications), I know they serve a useful function. A fine reviewer is a matchmaker, connecting a book with the reader who will most appreciate it. Something a hatchet job is never going accomplish!
    I’m no fan of the The Wild Irish Girl, I confess, but Lady Morgan rocks! So did all those other Mothers of the Novel.
    I’m not going to say anything specific about Ms. Dowd, whose socio-political commentary I often enjoy. I will state that I’m a huge fan of Chick Lit, which is not intended to please everyone. Whenever any type of book becomes popular, before you know it, the covers all look the same. Even the Lit Fic covers look like Chick Lit now. (try saying that 3 times, fast!)
    Great commentary, Loretta.

    Reply
  66. As a reviewer (mostly nonfic, but some types of fic) and an avid reader of reviews (in print publications), I know they serve a useful function. A fine reviewer is a matchmaker, connecting a book with the reader who will most appreciate it. Something a hatchet job is never going accomplish!
    I’m no fan of the The Wild Irish Girl, I confess, but Lady Morgan rocks! So did all those other Mothers of the Novel.
    I’m not going to say anything specific about Ms. Dowd, whose socio-political commentary I often enjoy. I will state that I’m a huge fan of Chick Lit, which is not intended to please everyone. Whenever any type of book becomes popular, before you know it, the covers all look the same. Even the Lit Fic covers look like Chick Lit now. (try saying that 3 times, fast!)
    Great commentary, Loretta.

    Reply
  67. As a reviewer (mostly nonfic, but some types of fic) and an avid reader of reviews (in print publications), I know they serve a useful function. A fine reviewer is a matchmaker, connecting a book with the reader who will most appreciate it. Something a hatchet job is never going accomplish!
    I’m no fan of the The Wild Irish Girl, I confess, but Lady Morgan rocks! So did all those other Mothers of the Novel.
    I’m not going to say anything specific about Ms. Dowd, whose socio-political commentary I often enjoy. I will state that I’m a huge fan of Chick Lit, which is not intended to please everyone. Whenever any type of book becomes popular, before you know it, the covers all look the same. Even the Lit Fic covers look like Chick Lit now. (try saying that 3 times, fast!)
    Great commentary, Loretta.

    Reply
  68. As a reviewer (mostly nonfic, but some types of fic) and an avid reader of reviews (in print publications), I know they serve a useful function. A fine reviewer is a matchmaker, connecting a book with the reader who will most appreciate it. Something a hatchet job is never going accomplish!
    I’m no fan of the The Wild Irish Girl, I confess, but Lady Morgan rocks! So did all those other Mothers of the Novel.
    I’m not going to say anything specific about Ms. Dowd, whose socio-political commentary I often enjoy. I will state that I’m a huge fan of Chick Lit, which is not intended to please everyone. Whenever any type of book becomes popular, before you know it, the covers all look the same. Even the Lit Fic covers look like Chick Lit now. (try saying that 3 times, fast!)
    Great commentary, Loretta.

    Reply
  69. “A fine reviewer is a matchmaker, connecting a book with the reader who will most appreciate it.”
    Beautifully put, Margaret. These are the sorts of reviewers one celebrates–and it is a talent, definitely.
    As to covers–as well as content–as in criticism, we are at the mercy of dedicated followers of fashion. Mercifully, in the cover business, as in the clothing business, the fads come and go fairly quickly.

    Reply
  70. “A fine reviewer is a matchmaker, connecting a book with the reader who will most appreciate it.”
    Beautifully put, Margaret. These are the sorts of reviewers one celebrates–and it is a talent, definitely.
    As to covers–as well as content–as in criticism, we are at the mercy of dedicated followers of fashion. Mercifully, in the cover business, as in the clothing business, the fads come and go fairly quickly.

    Reply
  71. “A fine reviewer is a matchmaker, connecting a book with the reader who will most appreciate it.”
    Beautifully put, Margaret. These are the sorts of reviewers one celebrates–and it is a talent, definitely.
    As to covers–as well as content–as in criticism, we are at the mercy of dedicated followers of fashion. Mercifully, in the cover business, as in the clothing business, the fads come and go fairly quickly.

    Reply
  72. “A fine reviewer is a matchmaker, connecting a book with the reader who will most appreciate it.”
    Beautifully put, Margaret. These are the sorts of reviewers one celebrates–and it is a talent, definitely.
    As to covers–as well as content–as in criticism, we are at the mercy of dedicated followers of fashion. Mercifully, in the cover business, as in the clothing business, the fads come and go fairly quickly.

    Reply
  73. One of my favorite profs when I was in grad school would frequently remind his students that the critic’s purpose was to “illuminate the text.” I respect critics who perform this challenging task even if I disagree with their conclusions. Unfortunately, many critics, professional and amateur, find it easier to annihilate or indiscriminately celebrate. Neither action serves readers well. As for generalizing about a genre based on a small sampling, I am not a chick lit fan, but that practice sounds like poor research leading to fallacious argument to me.

    Reply
  74. One of my favorite profs when I was in grad school would frequently remind his students that the critic’s purpose was to “illuminate the text.” I respect critics who perform this challenging task even if I disagree with their conclusions. Unfortunately, many critics, professional and amateur, find it easier to annihilate or indiscriminately celebrate. Neither action serves readers well. As for generalizing about a genre based on a small sampling, I am not a chick lit fan, but that practice sounds like poor research leading to fallacious argument to me.

    Reply
  75. One of my favorite profs when I was in grad school would frequently remind his students that the critic’s purpose was to “illuminate the text.” I respect critics who perform this challenging task even if I disagree with their conclusions. Unfortunately, many critics, professional and amateur, find it easier to annihilate or indiscriminately celebrate. Neither action serves readers well. As for generalizing about a genre based on a small sampling, I am not a chick lit fan, but that practice sounds like poor research leading to fallacious argument to me.

    Reply
  76. One of my favorite profs when I was in grad school would frequently remind his students that the critic’s purpose was to “illuminate the text.” I respect critics who perform this challenging task even if I disagree with their conclusions. Unfortunately, many critics, professional and amateur, find it easier to annihilate or indiscriminately celebrate. Neither action serves readers well. As for generalizing about a genre based on a small sampling, I am not a chick lit fan, but that practice sounds like poor research leading to fallacious argument to me.

    Reply
  77. Hi Loretta,
    I love Margaret’s definition of reviewer, too–and it describes very well how I like to use reviews. Once I get the hang of a reviewer’s slant, I can tell whether I will be a good “match” for the reviewed book or movie–whether or not the reviewer raved about it or panned it. Hey, it’s all about me, right?
    Actually, I do think that’s the bottom line with any piece of Art, whether it be written or visual or dramatic–it’s all about me, the receiver/reader/viewer. It’s all about whether I like it, whether it entertains me, whether it challenges me, whether it offends me, whether it feeds my soul–whether I think it’s art or trash. Heck, it doesn’t even much matter to me what message the author/artist intended–it’s the received message and meaning that has the power.
    (Sometimes I have given a sermon and a parishioner has said the next week, “I really loved how you talked about X and Y and put that together to be Z, and it was really meaningful to me.” And I’ll go back and look at the sermon and there’s no X or Y or Z in the thing–and I’ll wonder what on earth?– but somehow what I said stirred those thoughts and feelings in the parishioner’s brain. Amazing.)
    So–I feel like I’m allowed to have my own opinion about what is or is not Art. And Maureen Dowd and all the sneerfesters aside (and I’ll stack my Ivy education up against hers any day of the week, thanks)– Loretta–what you write is Art! Same for all of the wenches!
    Sometimes I finish a book and I desperately want to write a paper about it: “Hunger and Appetite as Metaphors in Carla Kelly’s BEAU CRUSOE,” for example–but mostly the books I enjoy lift my spirits, and inspire me, and reaffirm my faith in the beauty and joy of human life and love.
    In my 40’s I finally came to realize that “just because someone says something, doesn’t make it true.” So all those reviewers can just take James Joyce’s Ulysses and Martin Scorcese’s mob films and tell me they’re meaningful all they want. I’m never going to find them interesting. I’d rather read MR. IMPOSSIBLE and see Little Miss Sunshine, thanks. Isn’t that why God made us all different, anyway?–so we could enjoy and reflect back the diversity and beauty of creation?
    And BTW Loretta, I’ve always preferred “Bodice-Buster” to that ripper word as it always seemed to me amusingly descriptive of a particular style of cover art!
    Sorry for the sermon (sigh).
    Melinda

    Reply
  78. Hi Loretta,
    I love Margaret’s definition of reviewer, too–and it describes very well how I like to use reviews. Once I get the hang of a reviewer’s slant, I can tell whether I will be a good “match” for the reviewed book or movie–whether or not the reviewer raved about it or panned it. Hey, it’s all about me, right?
    Actually, I do think that’s the bottom line with any piece of Art, whether it be written or visual or dramatic–it’s all about me, the receiver/reader/viewer. It’s all about whether I like it, whether it entertains me, whether it challenges me, whether it offends me, whether it feeds my soul–whether I think it’s art or trash. Heck, it doesn’t even much matter to me what message the author/artist intended–it’s the received message and meaning that has the power.
    (Sometimes I have given a sermon and a parishioner has said the next week, “I really loved how you talked about X and Y and put that together to be Z, and it was really meaningful to me.” And I’ll go back and look at the sermon and there’s no X or Y or Z in the thing–and I’ll wonder what on earth?– but somehow what I said stirred those thoughts and feelings in the parishioner’s brain. Amazing.)
    So–I feel like I’m allowed to have my own opinion about what is or is not Art. And Maureen Dowd and all the sneerfesters aside (and I’ll stack my Ivy education up against hers any day of the week, thanks)– Loretta–what you write is Art! Same for all of the wenches!
    Sometimes I finish a book and I desperately want to write a paper about it: “Hunger and Appetite as Metaphors in Carla Kelly’s BEAU CRUSOE,” for example–but mostly the books I enjoy lift my spirits, and inspire me, and reaffirm my faith in the beauty and joy of human life and love.
    In my 40’s I finally came to realize that “just because someone says something, doesn’t make it true.” So all those reviewers can just take James Joyce’s Ulysses and Martin Scorcese’s mob films and tell me they’re meaningful all they want. I’m never going to find them interesting. I’d rather read MR. IMPOSSIBLE and see Little Miss Sunshine, thanks. Isn’t that why God made us all different, anyway?–so we could enjoy and reflect back the diversity and beauty of creation?
    And BTW Loretta, I’ve always preferred “Bodice-Buster” to that ripper word as it always seemed to me amusingly descriptive of a particular style of cover art!
    Sorry for the sermon (sigh).
    Melinda

    Reply
  79. Hi Loretta,
    I love Margaret’s definition of reviewer, too–and it describes very well how I like to use reviews. Once I get the hang of a reviewer’s slant, I can tell whether I will be a good “match” for the reviewed book or movie–whether or not the reviewer raved about it or panned it. Hey, it’s all about me, right?
    Actually, I do think that’s the bottom line with any piece of Art, whether it be written or visual or dramatic–it’s all about me, the receiver/reader/viewer. It’s all about whether I like it, whether it entertains me, whether it challenges me, whether it offends me, whether it feeds my soul–whether I think it’s art or trash. Heck, it doesn’t even much matter to me what message the author/artist intended–it’s the received message and meaning that has the power.
    (Sometimes I have given a sermon and a parishioner has said the next week, “I really loved how you talked about X and Y and put that together to be Z, and it was really meaningful to me.” And I’ll go back and look at the sermon and there’s no X or Y or Z in the thing–and I’ll wonder what on earth?– but somehow what I said stirred those thoughts and feelings in the parishioner’s brain. Amazing.)
    So–I feel like I’m allowed to have my own opinion about what is or is not Art. And Maureen Dowd and all the sneerfesters aside (and I’ll stack my Ivy education up against hers any day of the week, thanks)– Loretta–what you write is Art! Same for all of the wenches!
    Sometimes I finish a book and I desperately want to write a paper about it: “Hunger and Appetite as Metaphors in Carla Kelly’s BEAU CRUSOE,” for example–but mostly the books I enjoy lift my spirits, and inspire me, and reaffirm my faith in the beauty and joy of human life and love.
    In my 40’s I finally came to realize that “just because someone says something, doesn’t make it true.” So all those reviewers can just take James Joyce’s Ulysses and Martin Scorcese’s mob films and tell me they’re meaningful all they want. I’m never going to find them interesting. I’d rather read MR. IMPOSSIBLE and see Little Miss Sunshine, thanks. Isn’t that why God made us all different, anyway?–so we could enjoy and reflect back the diversity and beauty of creation?
    And BTW Loretta, I’ve always preferred “Bodice-Buster” to that ripper word as it always seemed to me amusingly descriptive of a particular style of cover art!
    Sorry for the sermon (sigh).
    Melinda

    Reply
  80. Hi Loretta,
    I love Margaret’s definition of reviewer, too–and it describes very well how I like to use reviews. Once I get the hang of a reviewer’s slant, I can tell whether I will be a good “match” for the reviewed book or movie–whether or not the reviewer raved about it or panned it. Hey, it’s all about me, right?
    Actually, I do think that’s the bottom line with any piece of Art, whether it be written or visual or dramatic–it’s all about me, the receiver/reader/viewer. It’s all about whether I like it, whether it entertains me, whether it challenges me, whether it offends me, whether it feeds my soul–whether I think it’s art or trash. Heck, it doesn’t even much matter to me what message the author/artist intended–it’s the received message and meaning that has the power.
    (Sometimes I have given a sermon and a parishioner has said the next week, “I really loved how you talked about X and Y and put that together to be Z, and it was really meaningful to me.” And I’ll go back and look at the sermon and there’s no X or Y or Z in the thing–and I’ll wonder what on earth?– but somehow what I said stirred those thoughts and feelings in the parishioner’s brain. Amazing.)
    So–I feel like I’m allowed to have my own opinion about what is or is not Art. And Maureen Dowd and all the sneerfesters aside (and I’ll stack my Ivy education up against hers any day of the week, thanks)– Loretta–what you write is Art! Same for all of the wenches!
    Sometimes I finish a book and I desperately want to write a paper about it: “Hunger and Appetite as Metaphors in Carla Kelly’s BEAU CRUSOE,” for example–but mostly the books I enjoy lift my spirits, and inspire me, and reaffirm my faith in the beauty and joy of human life and love.
    In my 40’s I finally came to realize that “just because someone says something, doesn’t make it true.” So all those reviewers can just take James Joyce’s Ulysses and Martin Scorcese’s mob films and tell me they’re meaningful all they want. I’m never going to find them interesting. I’d rather read MR. IMPOSSIBLE and see Little Miss Sunshine, thanks. Isn’t that why God made us all different, anyway?–so we could enjoy and reflect back the diversity and beauty of creation?
    And BTW Loretta, I’ve always preferred “Bodice-Buster” to that ripper word as it always seemed to me amusingly descriptive of a particular style of cover art!
    Sorry for the sermon (sigh).
    Melinda

    Reply
  81. RevMelinda, I will sit in your Amen corner any day, but I do think it is possible for a reader to number both Ulysses and Mr. Impossible among books she loves. Most of the time I prefer both/and to either/or. 🙂

    Reply
  82. RevMelinda, I will sit in your Amen corner any day, but I do think it is possible for a reader to number both Ulysses and Mr. Impossible among books she loves. Most of the time I prefer both/and to either/or. 🙂

    Reply
  83. RevMelinda, I will sit in your Amen corner any day, but I do think it is possible for a reader to number both Ulysses and Mr. Impossible among books she loves. Most of the time I prefer both/and to either/or. 🙂

    Reply
  84. RevMelinda, I will sit in your Amen corner any day, but I do think it is possible for a reader to number both Ulysses and Mr. Impossible among books she loves. Most of the time I prefer both/and to either/or. 🙂

    Reply
  85. I loved the fun that the film Something’s Gotta Give, had with the “Gidget & Geezer” dynamic.
    Even though I married a man ten years my senior, the established older man/younger woman protocol in films bothers me.
    But I plan on seeing Words & Music because I enjoy Drew Barrymore.
    Plotwise, I understand that Hugh Grant needs to be older because he’s an 80’s has-been, but couldn’t his lyrical plant-waterer be Mary-Louise Parker, or Andi MacDowell?

    Reply
  86. I loved the fun that the film Something’s Gotta Give, had with the “Gidget & Geezer” dynamic.
    Even though I married a man ten years my senior, the established older man/younger woman protocol in films bothers me.
    But I plan on seeing Words & Music because I enjoy Drew Barrymore.
    Plotwise, I understand that Hugh Grant needs to be older because he’s an 80’s has-been, but couldn’t his lyrical plant-waterer be Mary-Louise Parker, or Andi MacDowell?

    Reply
  87. I loved the fun that the film Something’s Gotta Give, had with the “Gidget & Geezer” dynamic.
    Even though I married a man ten years my senior, the established older man/younger woman protocol in films bothers me.
    But I plan on seeing Words & Music because I enjoy Drew Barrymore.
    Plotwise, I understand that Hugh Grant needs to be older because he’s an 80’s has-been, but couldn’t his lyrical plant-waterer be Mary-Louise Parker, or Andi MacDowell?

    Reply
  88. I loved the fun that the film Something’s Gotta Give, had with the “Gidget & Geezer” dynamic.
    Even though I married a man ten years my senior, the established older man/younger woman protocol in films bothers me.
    But I plan on seeing Words & Music because I enjoy Drew Barrymore.
    Plotwise, I understand that Hugh Grant needs to be older because he’s an 80’s has-been, but couldn’t his lyrical plant-waterer be Mary-Louise Parker, or Andi MacDowell?

    Reply
  89. Janga et al,
    I did get a little worked up, didn’t I? (sheepish grin) . . . I’m so sorry and I did swing the axe rather broadly when I slammed James Joyce. (I remember my English prof looking at us through her glasses and saying sternly, “Now ladies, I must ask that you expend Considerably More Effort in understanding this book!” and all of us cowering in shame.) (Do you understand Ulysses? Can I bow at your feet? Smile)
    Thanks for helping me keep my virtual feet on solid ground.
    Melinda

    Reply
  90. Janga et al,
    I did get a little worked up, didn’t I? (sheepish grin) . . . I’m so sorry and I did swing the axe rather broadly when I slammed James Joyce. (I remember my English prof looking at us through her glasses and saying sternly, “Now ladies, I must ask that you expend Considerably More Effort in understanding this book!” and all of us cowering in shame.) (Do you understand Ulysses? Can I bow at your feet? Smile)
    Thanks for helping me keep my virtual feet on solid ground.
    Melinda

    Reply
  91. Janga et al,
    I did get a little worked up, didn’t I? (sheepish grin) . . . I’m so sorry and I did swing the axe rather broadly when I slammed James Joyce. (I remember my English prof looking at us through her glasses and saying sternly, “Now ladies, I must ask that you expend Considerably More Effort in understanding this book!” and all of us cowering in shame.) (Do you understand Ulysses? Can I bow at your feet? Smile)
    Thanks for helping me keep my virtual feet on solid ground.
    Melinda

    Reply
  92. Janga et al,
    I did get a little worked up, didn’t I? (sheepish grin) . . . I’m so sorry and I did swing the axe rather broadly when I slammed James Joyce. (I remember my English prof looking at us through her glasses and saying sternly, “Now ladies, I must ask that you expend Considerably More Effort in understanding this book!” and all of us cowering in shame.) (Do you understand Ulysses? Can I bow at your feet? Smile)
    Thanks for helping me keep my virtual feet on solid ground.
    Melinda

    Reply
  93. You are so much more literate and understanding than I am about The Dowd, Loretta! I would have just said she was a jealous witch trying to beef up her own flagging sales. “G” Really, most criticism is as much about one’s self as it is about the object being critiqued, so it’s hard to take any of it too seriously. Although I do seriously appreciate reviewers who bring books to reader attention.

    Reply
  94. You are so much more literate and understanding than I am about The Dowd, Loretta! I would have just said she was a jealous witch trying to beef up her own flagging sales. “G” Really, most criticism is as much about one’s self as it is about the object being critiqued, so it’s hard to take any of it too seriously. Although I do seriously appreciate reviewers who bring books to reader attention.

    Reply
  95. You are so much more literate and understanding than I am about The Dowd, Loretta! I would have just said she was a jealous witch trying to beef up her own flagging sales. “G” Really, most criticism is as much about one’s self as it is about the object being critiqued, so it’s hard to take any of it too seriously. Although I do seriously appreciate reviewers who bring books to reader attention.

    Reply
  96. You are so much more literate and understanding than I am about The Dowd, Loretta! I would have just said she was a jealous witch trying to beef up her own flagging sales. “G” Really, most criticism is as much about one’s self as it is about the object being critiqued, so it’s hard to take any of it too seriously. Although I do seriously appreciate reviewers who bring books to reader attention.

    Reply
  97. Love the sermon, RevMelinda. I tried and tried to get Ulysses. Loved the language, but needed a prof as a guide to make any sense of it. I was also lost with Virginia Woolf. My brain needs a beginning, middle, and end–and I guess being obvious doesn’t hurt. Small wonder I return to the Victorians and their predecessors again and again. Jane, that’s exactly the question I ask myself. Much as I love Drew Barrymore, it’s not like there’s a dearth of actresses closer to Hugh Grant’s age. The sad thing is, compared to many other movies, the age differential between Hugh Grant & Drew Barrymore is almost reasonable.
    Pat, hey, I was trying to be literate and understanding for the blog. In my private life, my reaction was a lot more like yours. And hand gestures were involved. *g*
    Janga, I truly admire those who can illuminate the text. I had an English prof who did this–in an area of literature I wasn’t all that crazy about, at least at the start. But those who illuminate art for us, open doors. I am not sure I’d be doing what I’m doing now if not for this one, quiet, remarkable teacher.

    Reply
  98. Love the sermon, RevMelinda. I tried and tried to get Ulysses. Loved the language, but needed a prof as a guide to make any sense of it. I was also lost with Virginia Woolf. My brain needs a beginning, middle, and end–and I guess being obvious doesn’t hurt. Small wonder I return to the Victorians and their predecessors again and again. Jane, that’s exactly the question I ask myself. Much as I love Drew Barrymore, it’s not like there’s a dearth of actresses closer to Hugh Grant’s age. The sad thing is, compared to many other movies, the age differential between Hugh Grant & Drew Barrymore is almost reasonable.
    Pat, hey, I was trying to be literate and understanding for the blog. In my private life, my reaction was a lot more like yours. And hand gestures were involved. *g*
    Janga, I truly admire those who can illuminate the text. I had an English prof who did this–in an area of literature I wasn’t all that crazy about, at least at the start. But those who illuminate art for us, open doors. I am not sure I’d be doing what I’m doing now if not for this one, quiet, remarkable teacher.

    Reply
  99. Love the sermon, RevMelinda. I tried and tried to get Ulysses. Loved the language, but needed a prof as a guide to make any sense of it. I was also lost with Virginia Woolf. My brain needs a beginning, middle, and end–and I guess being obvious doesn’t hurt. Small wonder I return to the Victorians and their predecessors again and again. Jane, that’s exactly the question I ask myself. Much as I love Drew Barrymore, it’s not like there’s a dearth of actresses closer to Hugh Grant’s age. The sad thing is, compared to many other movies, the age differential between Hugh Grant & Drew Barrymore is almost reasonable.
    Pat, hey, I was trying to be literate and understanding for the blog. In my private life, my reaction was a lot more like yours. And hand gestures were involved. *g*
    Janga, I truly admire those who can illuminate the text. I had an English prof who did this–in an area of literature I wasn’t all that crazy about, at least at the start. But those who illuminate art for us, open doors. I am not sure I’d be doing what I’m doing now if not for this one, quiet, remarkable teacher.

    Reply
  100. Love the sermon, RevMelinda. I tried and tried to get Ulysses. Loved the language, but needed a prof as a guide to make any sense of it. I was also lost with Virginia Woolf. My brain needs a beginning, middle, and end–and I guess being obvious doesn’t hurt. Small wonder I return to the Victorians and their predecessors again and again. Jane, that’s exactly the question I ask myself. Much as I love Drew Barrymore, it’s not like there’s a dearth of actresses closer to Hugh Grant’s age. The sad thing is, compared to many other movies, the age differential between Hugh Grant & Drew Barrymore is almost reasonable.
    Pat, hey, I was trying to be literate and understanding for the blog. In my private life, my reaction was a lot more like yours. And hand gestures were involved. *g*
    Janga, I truly admire those who can illuminate the text. I had an English prof who did this–in an area of literature I wasn’t all that crazy about, at least at the start. But those who illuminate art for us, open doors. I am not sure I’d be doing what I’m doing now if not for this one, quiet, remarkable teacher.

    Reply

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