I have been declared a force of evil.


I am delighted the week ended on such a high note! Considering the source, I take this as quite a compliment (and if you want to know and follow the links you will get there in a recent post on this 'literary' person's site).


I can go to bed now and rest easy, knowing my work for probably the whole year is done...


(At least I'm not a...shudder...snob.)

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Comment by Sandra Ruttan on March 19, 2007 at 12:49pm
Very funny Mindy! I've just written up my 2 cents (not a review, just my opinion) on Casino Royale for my blog and I expect a lot more people will be called me evil when they read it.

It's like, I'm not really into those chick bonding movies, but loved Fried Green Tomatoes. And for romance, The Blue Castle by LM Montgomery (author of Anne of Green Gables). Far fewer people have read The Blue Castle but it is life-affirming and laugh outloud funny in parts.
Comment by M.G. Tarquini on March 19, 2007 at 12:42pm
Thanks for the explanation. No arguments from me. How I feel about romances in general shouldn't cloud my assessment of a well-written romance. I also shouldn't be flip and say, 'The writing sucks, but romance readers will like it because they'll read anything.'

(No flames from romance lovers, please. This is for illustrative purposes only. My philosophy is, if the writing is good, I'll read it.)
Comment by Sandra Ruttan on March 19, 2007 at 11:23am
Oh yeah re: my antagonist.

But with Harry Potter as an example, and with my complete blog post on Friday, as I'm saying it's nice for reviewers to have some leeway to bring other things to the table - their personal picks - and in an ideal situation that happens. But when you live in a smaller community and there are one or two review sources and parents are trying to decide what to buy their kids (for example) you have to cover what's popular because that's what the kids are asking for. I'm not saying to tell people to buy it because everyone else is, I'm saying to give parents information on it because their kids almost certainly will be asking for it.

The way I see it, it's my job to assess a book for its merits, and identify the audience it's best suited for (if any). Because reviews are largely driven by taste it would be easy for me to slag all comedies or romance because I prefer dark fiction. I see it as my job to say, "This is a well-written book with interesting characters and it should appeal to people who enjoy romance" not to say, "I hate all this gushy shit."

You assess the book on it's writing, it's storyline, it's overall strength, and identify the appropriate audience. That's the cornerstone of your job, not to say 'This sucks because it doesn't suit my taste.' That's the critical difference in my philosophy.
Comment by Sandra Ruttan on March 19, 2007 at 11:23am
Oh yeah re: my antagonist.

But with Harry Potter as an example, and with my complete blog post on Friday, as I'm saying it's nice for reviewers to have some leeway to bring other things to the table - their personal picks - and in an ideal situation that happens. But when you live in a smaller community and there are one or two review sources and parents are trying to decide what to buy their kids (for example) you have to cover what's popular because that's what the kids are asking for. I'm not saying to tell people to buy it because everyone else is, I'm saying to give parents information on it because their kids almost certainly will be asking for it.

The way I see it, it's my job to assess a book for its merits, and identify the audience it's best suited for (if any). Because reviews are largely driven by taste it would be easy for me to slag all comedies or romance because I prefer dark fiction. I see it as my job to say, "This is a well-written book with interesting characters and it should appeal to people who enjoy romance" not to say, "I hate all this gushy shit."

You assess the book on it's writing, it's storyline, it's overall strength, and identify the appropriate audience. That's the cornerstone of your job, not to say 'This sucks because it doesn't suit my taste.' That's the critical difference in my philosophy.
Comment by M.G. Tarquini on March 19, 2007 at 11:13am
There's no point in having everyone skip Harry Potter and review a different book nobody's heard of instead.

I disagree with you. Good middle grade and YA, especially YA, is hard to find. HP's done to death. As a parent, I'd rather see reviews of other titles, since I'm unlikely to read them before I hand them off to my kids. Regarding the really popular authors...If I wanted to read one of them, one review would be enough. I do like to read reviews of books by lesser known authors, because I might otherwise ignore them.

In other words, when I read the review section, it's because I'm looking for a good read. If a reviewer is only going to review the popular stuff, he's doing me a disservice. I want him to tell me what he thought was good, not what I'm supposed to go out and buy because everybody else did.

Though we disagree, I think your antagonist is angry because he used an imprecise phrase and you took what he said and showed it to be ridiculous. So he's shooting back. Just another day in publishing.
Comment by Sandra Ruttan on March 19, 2007 at 10:31am
Well, I'm married to evilkev. I'm sure he'll corrupt me eventually!
Comment by LC Fraser on March 19, 2007 at 10:19am
You are only truly evil when your 21 year old come home drunk and when asked to identify you says you are the devil and he is in hell and you know that he knows who he is talking to. Long way to go for you yet. Enjoy it. Being evil isn't so bad really.
Comment by Sandra Ruttan on March 19, 2007 at 8:07am
No, he pulls out a quote, but doesn't like to the post. It's my review post from Friday that set this guy off because I said that it wasn't the job of reviewers to be cultural leaders, but rather to assess for the most part that which had grabbed the interest of society. In other words, contrary to what he said, I suggested reviewers were losing relevance and review space was being cut because many reviewers were talking about books few people had any interest in.

I mean, as much as I don't want to see the papers reviewing nothing but Patterson, Brown, Steele and Grisham, the reality is that it's perplexing more "popular fiction" isn't being reviewed.

Every source that covers YA stuff out there should review Harry Potter. Why? Certainly not because JK needs more publicity for her work, but precisely because such a high number of parents will be assessing the book for their children to determine suitability. There's no point in having everyone skip Harry Potter and review a different book nobody's heard of instead.

This guy also fails to understand the difference between the arts pages and the hard news up front. Hard news isn't determined by what people want, but by what has actually happened. The reporters don't pick and choose whether or not to report a murder.

In the same way, the arts pages aren't up to the reviewers to make completely arbitrary decisions about. We all expect to go into a bookstore and find more books shelved by John Grisham than Sandra Ruttan. Grisham's books have captured the public interest. He sells more. It would be ridiculous for the store staff to say, "But I don't like him so I won't sell his stuff." If you're in this business it's your job to consider public interest in something. Booksellers and reviewers have other ways of taking liberties that allow them to promote books they believe in that don't get the same exposure of Grisham.

And people like me have the luxury of reviewing whatever they want...or don't want, as the case may be. But if it's your job, then do your job.
Comment by M.G. Tarquini on March 19, 2007 at 7:54am
Does he link to where you actually say whatever offended him so? It may surprise him to know that there are still a few of us who don't follow his blog.
Comment by Sandra Ruttan on March 19, 2007 at 1:24am
Indeed. And I'm inclined to think that people attack whatever they feel threatened by.

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