Monday, June 29, 2009

Literary Throwdown!

It's another grudge match between writers and critics, this time between Alice Hoffman and Boston Globe reviewer Roberta Silman. In Silman's review of Hoffman's new book, she wrote that while she's a fan of Hoffman's "gifts of precise prose and the ability to create sympathetic characters," The Story Sisters didn't exactly deliver. She says the book "lacks the spark of earlier works" and the characters and prose seem "tired." Even though there are nice passages, this one doesn't seem to be a winner in the Hoffman catalog.

Okay, not a good review. But I think Silman was professional and admitted that Hoffman is a fine writer, and parts of the book are good. They're just not her best work. But Hoffman decided this stung.

Best way to fire back? On Twitter, of course. A couple of gems:

"Now any idiot can be a critic. Writers used to review writers. My second novel was reviewed by Ann Tyler. So who is Roberta Silman?" use Twitter. Google Silman!

"Roberta Silman in the Boston Globe is a moron. How do some people get to review books? And give the plot away."

Hoffman also went on to post Silman's phone number and email address in case her Twitter readers wanted to personally attack Silman. WTF? And she tried to defend her actions by claiming "Girls are taught to be gracious and keep their mouths shut. We don't have to." Alice, there is a difference between speaking up for yourself and being a totally unprofessional brat. You want to be a writer? You have to deal with bad reviews. And Silman's review wasn't even terrible! Get over yourself already.

I do like Hoffman's work, but I am seriously befuddled by her behavior. Shouldn't she be used to some criticism? At least deal with it in a professional manner, not like some crazed middle schooler who went to town on Twitter.

And maybe that's the problem with Twitter. It allows you to make public all those immediate, emotional, private thoughts. Maybe Hoffman will calm down and realize that this does not showcase her in the best light.

Of course, now I'm also a little afraid that she'll come after me. I'll be watching my back.