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December 14, 2009

In defense of bad reviews

Conversational Reading: Negative Reviews, And the Virtues of Writing Short Reviews The publication Kirkus Reviews has folded and at the internet funeral everyone is discussing Kirkus' penchant for publishing negative reviews. Basically they told it as it is. If a book was bad, they said so. This made them nearly unique as no one else these days publishes bad reviews of books.
. . . I've never really agreed with the idea of only publishing positive reviews. I know the arguments in favor of it, but I don't find them persuasive, especially since if you happen to be in the position of finding out you don't like the book you're reviewing, you're out of luck. Still, though I can understand how positive-only reviews make sense for certain venues. But where said idea moves from simply something I disagree with to blatant idiocy would be in the case of something like a Kirkus, which sought to be as comprehensive as possible in its coverage. Not to put too fine a point on it, but if the majority of Kirkus's reviews weren't either so-so or outright negative, I'd be looking for fraud somewhere. Or to put it another way, I have no idea why anyone would expect anything other than for Kirkus to publish a lot of negative reviews. But I guess in today's book reviewing climate, the fact that a publication that reviews a sizable fraction of everything published in a year would go negative with some regularity is surprising. To digress briefly, I think the preponderance of positive reviews is a real liability of our incipient non-mainstream book review culture. There's a definite sense of honoring the effort, and of giving points simply for the sake of being a small publisher and trying to do something different. And all-too-often I get the sense that a reviewer wants to interpret the book more than critique it (i.e. coming to the text with the expectation that it will be good.) Granted, reviewers should keep an open mind, and it's certainly worthy of respect that a publisher is trying to upend the dominant culture, but letting this goodwill cross over into brownie points on a review is a bad thing. . . .

“If I am ever a romance heroine, I will not…”

Jennifer Crusie | Romance Heroine Don’ts List This is a fun list.
# Go up in my nightie to see what all that screaming in the attic is about. (Jenny) # Have a baby and not tell the father to protect him and his future. (Jenny) # Decide to barge into a dangerous situation just to show him! (Corrina) # Tell the hero I’m a virgin as I’m about to have some really incredible sex. (Corrina) # See him talking to another woman and turn it into a Flaming Affair without asking him about it. (Jen) . . . # Insist I am independent then allow the hero to dictate my life. (Jen) # Struggle futilely to break free from the hero’s punishing embrace before being overcome with desire. Either I want him, in which case I should not be fighting, or I don’t want him, in which case I should break his nose, foot, finger, and anything else handy. Enough with the wimpy struggles. (Jen)

December 13, 2009

Stephen King to pay to fly troops home to Maine for the holidays

Stephen King to pay for troops' holiday trip home - Yahoo! News
BANGOR, Maine – Author Stephen King and his wife are donating money so 150 soldiers from the Maine Army National Guard can come home for the holidays. King and his wife, Tabitha, who live in Bangor, are paying $13,000 toward the cost of two bus trips so that members of the 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry Unit can travel from Camp Atterbury in Indiana to Maine for Christmas. The soldiers left Maine last week for training at Camp Atterbury. They are scheduled to depart for Afghanistan in January. Julie Eugley, one of King's personal assistants, told the Bangor Daily News that the Kings were approached about giving $13,000.