Very good thoughts on malignant/gleeful criticism vs. constructive criticism. I don’t read a lot of critics currently, but I admit I got a great deal of pleasure out of reading the NYT’s one-star review of Guy Fieri’s restaurant, and I have to analyze how worthwhile that review was. It was aimed at such a broad range of people who all contributed to that restaurant and the critic’s (alleged) experience; apart from whether or not it helped improve the restaurant, I’ve always wanted to recommend it to creative nonfiction courses, just as an innovative example of the genre. But I wouldn’t want to turn all creative nonfiction students to the path of writing scathing reviews for cruelty’s sake.
A while ago — actually long before I started this blog — a book was published called The Book Of Kings, by James Thackara. I haven’t read the book. I’d never heard of it until I came across a link to a review of it. I’m not even sure how I found the review. I think it must have been in some kind of “cruelest reviews ever” roundup.
That’s not actually a joke or an insult. I think that’s genuinely where I found it. And the fact that I clicked the link is something we’ll come back to.
The Book Of Kings was not James Thackara’s first novel, though the review claims it is. Thackara published America’s Children in 1984, Ahab’s Daughter in 1989, and The Book Of Kings in 1999. He claimed to have been working on Kings for over twenty years, so I suppose that’s where the…
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