So, here’s a question on ethics to mull over. If a critic gives a negative review of a creative work, how far is the “artist” able to go in expressing their reaction? No one likes negative criticism, especially when we’ve poured our creative heart ‘n soul into a project.
Yesterday, it was widely reported that writer Alice Hoffman received a less than glowing review of her recent novel, “The Story Sisters”. One such review appeared in the Boston Globe by Roberta Silman. I read the review and in truth, it was kind in some places and critical in others. This is the nature of creating something and putting it “out there”. People criticize and excuse me for stating the obvious, but so do critics.
Hoffman has enjoyed much success in her career and is a seasoned writer. I would think she would have acquired a thicker skin through the years. Apparently not.
In a series of ranting Tweets posted to her Twitter account (partial list here, thanks to Gawker.com), Hoffman basically rants about Silman’s critique and publishes her personal phone number and email information and exhorts her followers to get in touch if they want to tell her off.
In my opinion, a public figure should be a bit more adept at holding it together, even circumstances much more difficult. A bad review (which this was not) is no excuse for a public meltdown and release of personal information with encouragement for the public at large to take action against another.
SELECTED TWEETS FROM ALICE HOFFMAN:
“Roberta Silman in the Boston Globe is a moron. How do some people get to review books?”
“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?”
“No wonder there is no book section in the Globe anymore. They don’t care about their readers, why should we care about them?”
“If you want to tell Roberta Silman off, her phone is _____________. [email protected] (sic). Tell her what you think of snarky critics”
Hoffman then soon after and through her publicist, released this apologetic statement (as they say, a day late and a dollar short):
I feel this whole situation has been completely blown out of proportion. Of course I was dismayed by Roberta Silman’s review which gave away the plot of the novel, and in the heat of the moment I responded strongly and I wish I hadn’t. I’m sorry if I offended anyone. Reviewers are entitled to their opinions and that’s the name of the game in publishing. I hope my readers understand that I didn’t mean to hurt anyone and I’m truly sorry if I did.
Of course, the synical amongst us could just view this entire episode as one giant publicity coup. Silman, through her lukewarm review and the resulting tirade on Hoffman’s part, have garnered the novel much more notice than it may have received otherwise.
Ironic, huh? Any thoughts?