|photo credit here|
I've had the most interesting series of emails with a representative from a publishing house in Japan. In the process of putting together the pieces for the Japanese Literature Challenge 7, I was contacted to see of there was some literature I'd like to read and review for the challenge. I eagerly accepted, and after scanning the catalog, I requested four books.
In reply, I was told "I am providing you with review copies of these four books free of charge, on the understanding that you may choose to review them. There are no strings of any kind attached, and obviously you may choose to give them all terrible reviews."
To which I responded, "I never give a bad review; if I do not like something I've read, I simply choose not to review it at all on my blog."
Now here is the thought-provoking answer, "You should consider giving bad reviews, too… it would improve the value of your reviews, I think. If you get a reputation as a reviewer who never writes bad things, then the implication is that you think everything is good. Which is certainly not the case…"
Bam! Out of the sensitive side of me, the side that never wants to be harsh, or hurt anyone's feelings, or lack an acknowledgement of the hard work put into writing a novel, I have chosen to 'ignore' literature which doesn't move me. But, now it occurs to me that I am not being a thorough reviewer on my blog.
When a child in my class makes an error, answers something incorrectly, or doesn't produce quality work, I gently point out what does not meet excellence. Yet I have not critiqued literature with such an imperious eye. Perhaps I feel unqualified as a professional reviewer, though I have never professed to be one.
No, the only ground on which I stand in writing about books is the ground of my life as a bibliophile. All I have to offer is my opinion as a reader, one who has read literally thousands of books, in many diverse genres, over the decades of my life. But now that opinion will include books which I find lacking as well as those I find excellent. Agreed?