Saturday, November 15, 2008

Accepting Too Much Praise

An essay by Joe Queenan in the New York Times Book Review tackles "the least-discussed subject in the world of belles-lettres: book reviews that any author worth his salt knows are unjustifiably enthusiastic." Queenan remarks that authors are "only too glad to accept praise that is not warranted, kudos they do not deserve" but rarely "come out and admit that the praise ... was excessive, inappropriate, ill-considered, unseemly or flat-out wrong." As a counterexample, Queenan talks about the time Kurt Andersen, a co-founder of Spy and the author of Heyday and Turn of the Century, reacted when a reviewer compared him to James Joyce: "I took it as a compliment, but I also thought, well, it’s not really true.”

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