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Yes, Virginia, There is a Literary Critic

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You can take the stooge out of the critic but you can’t take the critic out of the stooge.

 What I mean is that in literature, like in any other art form, a bonafide field of criticism replete with specialized terms, peer approved methods of analysis, and acceptable forms of debate regarding a work exists whether you like it or not. That’s just the nature of the beast. And many online, usually anonymous, reviewers post feedback about a book that are beastly asinine.

Here are some typical examples:

  • “I loved it! Couldn’t put it down!”
  • “Can’t wait for the next book by this author!”
  • “A real page turner!”
  • “I hated it! Where did this person learn to write?”
  • “No likeable characters.”
  • “Too much sex and/or violence.”

These are the kind of responses I used to get from ninth grade, high school students who hadn’t yet developed the adolescent capacity for abstract thinking.

On the other hand, if a person has a degree in literature, journalism, or some other related subject, he or she can comment about things like narrative, exposition, development, transitional devices, plot development, perspective, story climax, denouement, and other specifics which annoy average readers and involuntarily throw them into a name calling frenzy, attacking the reviewer as a literary snob.


Yet despite this seemingly widespread disgust toward intelligent criticism, be it good or bad (relative terms themselves), I don’t know any authors who shun or disregard reviews of their work. In fact, the opposite is more the standard. Writers crave attention and feedback, but then when some get it, or their loyal but dim witted fans don’t like it, they attack the reviewer mercilessly ad nauseum and ad hominem. 

Those of you who fall into this category, please do those of us who know what we’re talking about a favor and just log off. Or at least have the courage to use your real identity online so the world can see where you are coming from and what qualifies you to comment as you do. Otherwise, head back to the North Pole, take up your position in Santa’s workshop and fabricate things that amuse childlike minds.  And during your breaks, instead of reading a book, watch reruns of The Three Stooges–an art form, hopefully, you are qualified to comment upon.

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About John H. Byk