Two things in my e-mail today reminded me of this famous little soliloquy from Ratatouille. One was a request for an endorsement (blurb) on a first novel, which I was happy to provide because the book was terrific (Miss You Most of All by Elizabeth Bass). The other was a link to an anonymous review of one of my books. A nasty little thing it was, too. (The down side of Google Alerts.) It was for a book that has sold well, a book readers loved, so I didn’t take it too hard.
In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations, the new needs friends.
Congrats to Amy who won the last drawing, thanks to www.random.org. I am throwing in a Seattle Chocolates Truffle bar because she loves chocolate. Next question! Have you ever read a book the critics despised but you loved? Or have you ever discovered a book because a critic praised it? Post your replies in Comments, and you’ll be entered in the next drawing, for a copy of Just Breathe and a mini-radio I picked up during a plant run to the garden shop, so you can listen to Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me while you do the weeding.