Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

When “respected” authors get bad reviews

I thought it would be interesting to reblog my most popular post of 2014, concerning the Francine Prose review of Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. Maybe you recall that Prose pretty much tore Tartt a new one.
Then, in just the kind of ironic reverse that ’14 seemed to specialize in, Donna Tartt won the Pulitzer Prize. Coming in second in my popularity ranks was the post that pondered that bit of WTF: Donna Tartt to Francine Prose: “Suck a lemon, babe.” http://wp.me/p3sx1Q-AA
Enjoy the hilarity…



I wish this Francine Prose review of Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch in the New York Review of Books were unlocked. She essentially tears Tartt a new one for… bad writing.

And I say bravo! I had a post a few months ago about how we might approach self-published books we review, but when New York puts out a novel that is as flawed as Prose reveals, seems to me that spades should be called spades. I haven’t read Tartt, but I have a feeling that her huge success with The Secret History might have set her up for a fall. According to Prose, though popular, The Goldfinch is pretty much a mess.

Prose is stunned at how well-received the book has been so far by readers.

What do you think? Why do crappy books get a free pass?

By the way, has anyone read The Goldfinch yet? Let us…

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2 comments on “When “respected” authors get bad reviews

  1. 1WriteWay
    January 3, 2015

    I’m starting to approach “long” books the same as I do long (over 2 hours) movies: with a lot of trepidation. I read mojomojoman’s comment from your previous post, and I felt generally the same about Tartt’s The Secret History. I listened to an audio version of it a long time ago. I enjoyed it until the last quarter when it seemed she could have ended the novel but instead went on and on and on. Sort of like a movie that could have ended a half-hour ago, but is dragged out for, what? Special effects? Melodrama? What ever happened to good editing? What ever happened to editing?

    • Kevin Brennan
      January 3, 2015

      You hit it on the head! I think some authors — especially ones that have had a big hit — are given carte blanche, and usually that results in huge self-indulgence. You’d think that a genu-wine arteest would keep his eye on the ball.

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This entry was posted on January 2, 2015 by in Publishing.
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