From The Washington Post Style Blog:
A battle-scarred author lashed back at nasty book critics this week in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Arthur Krystal is an exceptional essayist whose work has appeared in the New Yorker, Harper’s, the Washington Post and many other places. But 15 years ago, he says, he stopped reviewing books because he didn’t like the supercilious impulse such assignments inspired in him. He realized he was tired of hurting other authors. “Recipients of unfavorable reviews suffer heartburn for months, perhaps years.”
. . . .
Krystal is right, of course, there’s no need to be cruel, but sometimes the exasperation of slogging through a dull, stupid or monumentally over-hyped book gets the best of even the nicest person.
. . . .
Suffering through Jimmy McDonough’s “truly empty, cliche-littered, bubble-headed” biography of Tammy Wynette on a long flight, my colleague Jon Yardley wrote, “I wished the plane would crash, just to put me out of my misery.”
And a dozen years ago, my other Pulitzer Prize-winning colleague,Michael Dirda, endured a romance novel he couldn’t abide. “Sometimes critics lament that good trees were felled to produce a certain book,” he concluded. “In the case of Judith Krantz’s ‘Dazzle,’ I even feel bad for the ink and the glue.”
But when corresponding with Michael this week, he expressed a sentiment that I think anyone in the business would agree with: “W.H. Auden said that writing negative reviews was bad for your character, and I believed him: They are fun to do, and relatively easy as well. Hence, my effort to write about books I’m fairly sure I’m going to like and that deserve wider notice. Still, every so often I let the Devil have his day.”
Link to the rest at the Washington Post Style Blog