A client asked me today about what I think of authors reviewing other authors, particularly in a negative light. It’s an interesting companion with yesterday’s blog post about writers commenting on reviews. I am of two minds:
On the one hand, I am a strong proponent of critical thought and discourse. There is just too damn much puffery out there, and it seems like people (at least publicly) are losing their ability to think critically.
On the other hand, from a public relations perspective, it is smart for people part of a small community (and really, the internet makes it a small commuity no matter how far apart we are,) to write critical reviews of other community members’ work? Probably not.
So my answer? Sure, but be careful and make sure you support your assertions with examples.
But for the larger issue this puts us in a bind, and goes back to the 21st Century Criticism blog series on my personal blog. How do we get really good critical discussion and analysis when we’re all so close to each other?
Once again I fear we lose something in the democratization of the internet: the professional reviewer, with his or her professional distance.
All that said, I am a deeply social creature. I like the closeness and community and I like the friends I’ve made. I feel at home with many of my writing and editing pals. So we lose something, which I firmly believe, but we also gain. It’s complicated and I don’t pretend to have the answers.
So where do you go for really good, fair reviewers–even for what they don’t like? (I mean this aside from Goodreads and the like, which I think are the obvious choices–I am interested in what individuals are out there fighting the good critical fight.)