Sunday, July 02, 2023

Quote of the Hour: Hurled With Great Force

Every writer has one review they cannot forget and cannot forgive. For one of my friends it's Brad Leithauser's review, for another John Updike's. Mention the cursed name, and you'll hear a shriek or a gasp, and the story of the unforgivable assault is retold. "She said my characters do not have to work." Or "He used the word 'hysterical.'" Or "She said those things in The Boston Globe. The Globe!" My own nemesis review was one I never read. It was faxed to me, and my husband read it as it came in on the fax machine. His face turned white. I had never seen a face do that. It made an impression. He said, "Do not read this," and I never did. Perhaps that's why Becky Saletan's story of her husband breaking the bad news to her means a lot to me. Behind every book, behind every author, there's the friend or partner, lover or spouse, children and parents, brothers and sisters, agent, editor, the editor's or agent's friend or partner, lover or spouse, the sales director and the art director and their lovers and spouses perhaps as well, and brothers and sisters and children and parents, and all of them know that there has been a death in the family, the death of the book baby.

 - Phyllis Rose, The Shelf, pp.130-131

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