A recent article by Jacob Silverman in Slate alleged that book reviews have become too nice, too full of “personal esteem and mutual reinforcement” at the expense of cold hard criticism. His idea was echoed by Dwight Garner at The New York Times Magazine, who called for more “excellent and authoritative and punishing critics—perceptive enough to single out the voices that matter for legitimate praise, abusive enough to remind us that not everyone gets, or deserves, a gold star.”
Personally, I think smart readers are always skeptical of nice reviews. Twitter and Tumblr and Facebook may be turning into a “mutual admiration society,” as Silverman says, but we all know that criticism has teeth, and we recognize the best of it when we smell blood. This month’s winners are a reminder that here at the Critical Hit Awards, we sometimes like it rough.
- Brian Hurley