June 30, 2009

The best response is silence but...

... if Alice Hoffman's twitter outburst exemplifies how not to respond to unfavorable reviews, this song by an actor in response to a critic who slagged his singing pretty much works. (NSFW, I'd guess.)

And the critic responds here.

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I will hate you till the day I die and wish you nothing but ill will in every career move you make.

A very famous novelist named Alice Hoffman flipped out over a lukewarm review in the Boston Globe on twitter over the weekend, publishing the reviewer's email and phone number and inviting readers to harass her. (Hoffman's twitter account has now been deleted and she has issued an apology, but the spate of ill-considered tweets will, of course, live forever on the internet.)

The title of this post is from a comment left by the British essayist Alain de Botton on the blog of Caleb Crain, who reviewed his latest unfavorably in the New York Times Book Review.

And in this interview (via EW's PopWatch), Richard Ford confirms that his response to one negative review was to take one of the reviewer's own books out and shoot it with a gun. (The reviewer was, incidentally, one Alice Hoffman.)

Clearly, two of these responses are unwise, embarrassing, over-the-top and kind of psycho. (The third, shooting a book with a gun, is so evidently reasonable that I find myself shaking my head in astonishment that it never occurred to me to do it.)

Yet even though it is clearly wise to contrive to appear to be a good sport in the face of a mean review, I would guess that the secret thoughts of approximately 100% of writers in that situation track Alain de Botton's sentiments more or less precisely. And the authors who claim they never read the damn reviews: well of course they're lying. They're the ones to watch most of all.

Nicholas von Hoffmann famously said he stopped writing book reviews because "it's not worth $250 to make an enemy for life." For good or ill, a writer never ever ever forgets an unfavorable review and maintains a meticulously-updated enemies list in his or her head.

Several of those commenting on the Hoffman-Silman affair have mentioned that the review in question wasn't even all that bad. But the reviewer, Roberta Silman, is a seasoned book reviewer and a novelist herself, so presumably she was aware that none of her incidental, conciliatory comments about what a big fan she was would prevent the inevitable result, which is the author in tears in the basement humming a jarring tune, sticking pins in a Roberta Silman-shaped doll and quietly plotting revenge against a background montage of black-and-white images of a troubled childhood. I mean, we've all been there.

Crazy system, I know, but that's the way it works.

Added: Roberta Silman's courtly response is here.

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June 29, 2009

I'm Fat and Nobody Likes Me

(via boingboing. Contains swear words.)

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June 28, 2009

I Knew Sky

Sky Saxon dead at 71.

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June 26, 2009

Ayn contacted me with a personal letter (and a copy of Atlas Shrugged) through my agents.

The Farrah Fawcett - Ayn Rand connection.

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June 25, 2009

Lucky Number

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"The physical act of writing a novel takes a long time..."

John Scalzi on "why new novelists are kinda old."

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June 23, 2009

Quote of the Day

From Ray Bradbury:

"Yahoo called me eight weeks ago,” he said, voice rising. “They wanted to put a book of mine on Yahoo! You know what I told them? ‘To hell with you. To hell with you and to hell with the Internet.’”

(via bookslut.)

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June 21, 2009



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June 18, 2009

Hello Kthulhu


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"I can't believe Keith Richards outlived me..."

Last words from this obituary.

(via John Green.)

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June 17, 2009

Deep Deep Down

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Everyone, at All Times, Must Have the Right Hair

High School Females-2.jpg

They're making a movie about the Runaways, which could wind up being great, or not, like most things.

Casting call here, but note the hair specifications:

This is not Austin Powers, over-the-top 1970s. This is real, a reproduction of true events, very authentic rock’n’roll in the 1970s.

Girls' hair should be long, straight, or wavy—no modern cuts or colors—only natural colors. Hair can be shorter, but not super short. Hair was not stick-straight; no appliances to straighten the hair were used. Guys' hair should be shaggy, longish, or completely long—no crew cuts.

Hair for both sexes was generally parted in the middle and worn long or waved back Farrah Fawcett style. 18-to-look-younger guys should have no facial hair.

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I Wish it Could be 2006 Again

Michael Schaub, one of my favorite book-bloggers of old, is back posting on bookslut.

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Way better than the actual Doors

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June 16, 2009



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June 15, 2009

Fine. Fine, then.

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Kings Dork

I don't know who this guy is, but this page from an old article in Nylon magazine, presented to me by google alerts this morning by way of this live journal entry, cracks me up for obvious reasons:


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June 13, 2009


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June 12, 2009

Judas Priest


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June 11, 2009

Horses with foals encountered on morning walk


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I Second that Emotion

From Ben's latest post on music biz devolution:

At this stage the cupboard has been rendered so bare that record royalties are more or less a moot point. I'd be happy to give away future albums, settling for crossing my fingers and praying for the odd licensing deal, if only I could figure out how to pay for the damned recordings!

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June 10, 2009



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I'm on My Way Back Home Again

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June 09, 2009

English Sky IV


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Dr. Music

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June 08, 2009

English Sky III


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English Sky II


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English Sky


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A Blast from the Past


There was a time when the presence or absence of one of these fluorescent keychains would reliably reveal at a distance whether a given person was one of us rather than one of them.

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A Product of My Time


Invariably, the first thing that comes to mind when I see a mediaeval English church is: Black Sabbath.

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June 03, 2009

The fear of the Lord is a fountain of


The missing word at the end of the legend decorating this old public drinking fountain at Lincoln's Inn Fields in London is "life." It's a quotation from the Book of Proverbs, and though it's not hard to follow the logic of its literal-minded designer, it's still a pretty weird thing to decide to put on a drinking fountain. Or is it?

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June 02, 2009

Goodenough College


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Sigillum Dei Aemeth

Several items used by Dr. Dee in his Enochian actions and "spiritual conferences" are on display at the British museum:


Speaking of which, I've always been curious about the story behind this story, but if anything further has ever been published about the incident, my rudimentary googling skills have failed to locate it.

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June 01, 2009

The Prayer Requests binder in the nave of Temple Church:


Double Double Your Disquiet

I really loved that Blake exhibit. The pages (from the sixty-six page book he produced to introduce and elucidate the paintings) lamenting the failure of some of the paintings I found particularly poignant and relatable.

There's tons of amazing, bizarre stuff at the Tate Britain. The Cholmondeley Ladies are currently haunting me:


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