Reading and readers

Roger Burton West roger at
Sat Dec 18 09:27:59 EST 2004

On Sat, Dec 18, 2004 at 02:06:47PM +1100, ROSLYN wrote:

>It's not completely clear whether Hornby agreed 
>with his magazine's attitude that 'that if it looks like I might not enjoy 
>a book, I will abandon it immediately, and not mention it by name.',

I wish I had done this when reading _High Fidelity_.

>but I 
>find myself agreeing that while it's important for reviewers (or just 
>readers) to be honest about what they disliked about a book, it's equally 
>undesirable to be too nasty and negative, especially as that is the trend 

Up to a point. I think the trick is that it's much easier to give
specific criticism and general praise than to work the other way round;
when I'm reading a review, I want to know as exactly as possible what
the reviewer liked or disliked, because that reviewer's tastes are at
best several degrees out of phase with mine; someone who hates
anarchist utopias in space, for example, may for that reason dislike a
book I might enjoy, but I still want to know whether it's
competently-written and has engaging characters.

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