The Value of Negative Reviews

Originally posted on Whatever:

Over at Metafilter they’re talking about this New Yorker article, in which book critic Lee Siegel explains why he doesn’t want to write negative book reviews anymore (here’s the MF thread). I posted my thoughts on the matter there, but it’s worth posting them here too. Here’s what I said.

I was a professional critic of film and music for a number of years and I didn’t shy away from giving negative reviews when I felt negative about the work. But it’s worth noting that when I was doing that work, I wasn’t given the option of what work to review; particularly with film, my job was to review every film that came into town. With music, what I reviewed was mostly assigned, not chosen.

These days people are interested in knowing my reviews of books (particularly in science fiction and fantasy). By and large with books…

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