Tuesday, November 29, 2005

So what's the deal with Publisher's Weekly?


Show me a writer, artist, musician, or film maker who can stand them and I'll show you a poseur! It's so hard to have even a modicum of respect for critics or reviewers who never have to *make* art but can feel free to criticize and berate the hell out of it. How is that even remotely fair -- either to the creator of the work or to the public?

I've always hated the fact that people can make a living trashing or otherwise "reviewing" the work of creative people (and feel self-righteous in the process). I wish there were some way to educate people about how uninformed, biased, and downright mean (not to mention frequently bribed) most reviewers are and how important it is not to take their word as gospel on any book, movie, or CD you see that interests you.

I confess to checking out what certain critics have to say -- mostly so I can do the opposite of what they say. Take Roger Ebert, for example. If he likes something, I absolutely know I'll think it stinks. So, yeah, sometimes I guess they can serve a useful purpose!

So, yeah, I'm riled because some moron representing Publisher's Weekly chose to single out a few stories in CONFESSIONS: ADMISSIONS OF SEXUAL GUILT that he or she didn't care for and then proceeded to characterize the whole book based on those few stories. (And what recourse do I, M. Christian, or any of the mute writers in that anthology have against this twit? Why, none at all.) The nature of anthologies is that they have a little something for everybody. Some folks call that "uneven" and I suppose I can accept that, but the bottom line is that a reviewer like that is not only content to affect the sales of a book but also to remain ignorant about how the anthology process works.

Unless an editor has an incredible ego and only chooses stories that turn him or her on, selecting stories is a challenging undertaking because you *want* a variety of voices, themes, perspectives, tones, etc. That's why one person can read an anthology and say they only liked some stories and another person can say the same thing -- but they didn't like the *same* stories!

Just because the Publisher's Weekly reviewer person didn't like the handful of stories he or she took the time to read, the whole book gets condemned. It's a pretty rare event when somebody will enjoy *every* story in an anthology, and maybe that's a curse of anthologies but I think it's also their strength. Something for everybody. Usually. Except if you work for Publisher's Weekly, apparently.

Have you ever noticed that no kids tell their parents "I wanna be a book reviewer/movie critic/music reviewer when I grow up"? Think about it. :)