The Death of a Literary Critic

09/27/2012 at 5:58 am (Writing) (, , , , , )

On my facebook fan page, I posted this.

And then I said this: Dear readers, do any of you have an opinion on this? Love to hear it if’n you.  I certainly have one. Or three.

My wondering got me this from a good friend, a terrific writer, and a great editor.

“If literary critics had solid standards for a critic’s education, perhaps even certification, he might have a point.  But what is “traditional lit crit” except self-appointed experts who found someone to publish their opinion?  Now anyone can publish their opinion.  He says all opinions are not equally valid, and I agree.  Amazingly, most people can manage to distinguish between those that are and those that aren’t, given what they like to read.  For instance, I expect that Sir Stothard’s opinion of any particular book of fantasy fiction, were he to even bother to review one, would differ widely from mine.  Now I can go online and find lots of opinions on a fantasy book, some of which I will learn to trust as being similar to my own.  And this is a problem because…?  Silly man.”

To which I could not help but respond:

“Oh, good point!  We require certification for almost everything now, things that were once the province of wildcats.  Like making movies.  Used to be you grabbed a camera, some real cowboys, a pretty girl to tie to some railroad tracks, and you had a movie.  The internet has given us wildcats back and in, of all places, the world of books.  If you’re good enough, and work hard enough, you can get a successful blog going.  Of course, if I know human nature, successful bloggers will find a way to control their new “industry” just as this poor man fights to save his old industry.  But for now it’s a free-for-all. 

Then there’s your terrific point about what REAL literary critics actually read and write about.  Certainly not fantasy or sci fi or horror.  Genre fiction has been ignored forever.  Actually, they’ve been scorned.  I will admit I do try and read what wins the Booker Prize or the National Book Award each year, but almost always set it aside for something much more interesting. Like a good book.”

And now here, I ask: any thoughts?

Permalink 6 Comments