This is in response to the post of friend and creator, Jessica Barksdale Inclan--"Things That Hurt."
I’m currently reviewing a novel for the Washington Post. When I was offered the assignment, I emailed the senior editor, Ron Charles, to say, “As soon as I receive my review copy, I will begin reading, and I if I discover that I really dislike it, I will return it immediately so someone else can have a chance at the review. My opinion is just my opinion. If it is a badly written book, the work will die a natural death without my or someone else's lethal pen.”
If you can’t be life-engendering, keep quiet. A book review is not the place for a fellow writer to display his or her stylistic acrobatics and wit at the expense of the maker. Primum non nocere -- "First, do no harm." I wish it were the credo of all reviewers in life, book critics and otherwise.
When I was small, I was given a book on art appreciation, and one of the images contained was an etching by Peter Bruegel, the elder. It was titled THE ARTIST AND THE CRITIC. I didn’t understand it when I was eleven, but it bears a special meaning having now been in the world as a maker for many decades.
In Bruegel’s etching, the painter is symbolic of all creative endeavors. The creator, wielding the brush with his authoritative and powerful arm, dominates the scene; the critic with his crooked dog leg clutches a purse. The creator’s eyes are intense and concentrating on his work; the critic is myopic and his mouth is a mere slit, offering uninvited remarks.
The creator’s nose is straight while the critic sticks his beak into business not his own. The creator’s hair and beard signifies richness, fecundity, productivity while the critic is hairless, asexual and sterile.
Bruegel is one of my absolute favorite makers and he has rendered the critic inane.
Causes Belle Yang Supports
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