When Critics Snuggle Up To Authors (And When Authors Snuggle Back)
I tell you, I just love Critical Mass. Today Jennifer Reese had a rather thought-provoking post on what happens when critics and authors get a touch too friendly.
Because I live far from a publishing hub, I don't mingle with authors much, but I'm wondering this: How could it NOT affect your work as a critic if you do? And far from introducing a problematic conflict of interest, doesn't it make you more careful and thoughtful knowing you might run into the author you're writing about? Assuming you're not a complete sociopath, is there a better way to assure integrity and accountability?
Amen to that. She even provides a link to a fascinating Slate article from last year entitled The Case For Hiring Biased Book Reviewers. Definitely a bit of head-scratching to be done. As someone who has a penchant for the authorial types, I know exactly what she's saying. I sit at this reference desk in the best children's library in the country knowing full well that if Robert Munsch wanted to come in here and box my ears he could easily do so (though I could probably lie about my name). And heck, today I received a bit of authorial dribble from a perfectly nice publisher. I'd love to tear it the book to itty-bitty shreads on this blog, but common courtesy (I mean, they paid for shipping and everything) means I'll probably just not review it at all. So what happens if someone like Mo Willems or Brian Selznick or Jackie Woodson writes something bad? Should I be honest? Guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Fortunately, the authors I tend to meet are by-and-large uniquely talented and will never ever write anything bad. GOT IT AUTHORS?? NEVER!