For me it is self-evident that every author is interested in literary criticism. I rely by myself on critics to sieve through the tsunami of literature that nowadays is released upon us by Amazon. Most of them are doing a great job and last year in May I’ve dedicated already a post that dealt with this issue (Critics; can’t live with them, can’t live without them).
Critics don’t write for the benefit of writers, but to inform potential readers about the intrinsic qualities of a certain text and their appreciation of it. It is very often an opinion that is colored by the reviewer’s own tastes, preferences and background.
The writers of those books are reading these criticisms, since an influential critic can make or break a book’s commercialization.
There are only two kinds of critics I have problems with; the moral crusaders and the attention seekers.
The moral crusaders are reading a book through a very narrow mindset and are prone to reject not only a book, but the whole oeuvre of an author because they found in one paragraph a word or an opinion that collides with what they consider “politically correct”. They’ve made publishers reedit the oeuvre of Mark Twain because of the “nigger”-word (yes, I dare to write it instead of the hypocritical n****r-word) and probably a couple of other issues also. Some idiots, who probably just stopped reading after they encountered this word in Twain’s work, had even the stamina to accuse Twain of being an undercover supremacist. To me it felt like: let’s burn the US constitution because it was written by slave-keepers. And then you have the more recent attacks and calls for boycotting more contemporary writers because of their opinions about some issues that are mostly related to human sexuality and race. A virtual Fahrenheit 451 fueled by a narrow McCartneyan mindset.
And then you have the attention seekers. Because they’ve accumulated for some dubious reasons a huge amount of followers, publishers send them free ARC’s. These are the reviewers with the endless TBR-lists and dedicate most of their posts to the subject of what books they should read and which ones they will skip. For this exercise they base themselves upon the blurb and the cover-design. And when they finally find half an hour to unglue themselves from their website, they read the prologue, skim through a book, have a look on Goodreads what more thoughtful critics find of it. Next step is to compose a two sentence review. Job done, post “review” on top of the new TBR –list. Most important thing: do a lot of posting and engage your followers into the issue of what books you should “keep”, which ones are to “dismiss” and ask about their opinion upon your “criticism” of your latest “read”. Meanwhile, let the website advertisements generate some income.
You think I’m exaggerating?