META: The Problem of Subjectivity

tem2 gfishbone at
Thu Mar 13 06:26:45 PDT 2008

All criticism has a subjective component.  We've seen enough book and
movie reviews to be familiar with the concept.  The only difference is
that when it's your work under review, it becomes personal.  It may
not be meant as personal, but that's the way it feels.

But there are so many different ways to review a work that you can't
make a generalization without knowing the review's purpose.  Is it an
academic review meant to fit the work into a larger context of genre?
Is it meant to provoke a discussion on a topic of interest to the
reviewer?  Is it meant to suggest works a reader might want to either
avoid or be sure not to miss?  Is it meant to provide feedback to the
author?  Or is the reviewer just inviting us along as he or she tries
to figure out why one story stands out while another leaves the
reviewer flat?

When my book got an unfair review from Kirkus, a major review journal
that libraries and bookstores use to decide what to stock, I had my
main character write tell them off in an open letter: <<http://>>


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