It’s hard not to imagine every review as just a shout into the abyss. It’s why something like “A real stinker!” makes sense: it’s to the point. It says, “I would highly recommend you don’t buy this book.” While Wells’s review of Fieri’s American Kitchen & Bar is a work of art and comedy itself, the very nature of critique lends itself to a rant. It’s amusing to plumb the depths of hate. It’s harder to discuss admiration with nuance and fairness. And if discussing it isn’t hard enough, it’s difficult to persuade someone to read a lengthy review written by an anonymous reader on Goodreads.
I found myself getting irked. Why such reticence to make a simple comment online that you don’t agree with an essay’s claims? One could maintain a level of tact within the discourse. “You have a wealth of knowledge and a compulsion to set the record straight,” I wrote, “and yet you decline to do anything but privately email me — why?” I thought of all the people who daily kick off their boots to plunge into the various mud pits of online forums. I invited this reader to do the same. She told me she had no intention of falling for that.
Excerpts and curios from around the web:
Wayne Koestenbaum desecrates with color, Prince pens a memoir, and Fran Lebowitz kindly asks that you cancel your vacation.
When I was a kid, I used to trade secrets like baseball cards. We moved around a bit when I was younger, and I wasn’t good at making friends. I was better at observing the kids around me, and analyzing how they talked to each other, which explains why I’m a writer now. But back then, all I really knew was that friends told each other secrets. I told a secret, I got a secret. I got a secret, I told a secret. The exchange rate was a perfect 1:1. Who is your crush? Who is my crush? We walked away none richer, none poorer. Or that was the hope.
Each spring, MQR welcomes applications for new blog contributors. We’re looking for writers with backgrounds in various disciplines to create unique, thought-provoking posts of interest to MQR’s online readership. Love to interview authors? Review books? Talk about the craft of writing or storytelling as it relates to some other discipline? Maybe you’ve got a great idea for a regular comic about the writing life—point is, we’re open to your pitches.