[Milton-L] soliciting of reviews

Peter C. Herman herman2 at mail.sdsu.edu
Thu Dec 11 23:43:25 EST 2008

A confession: I declined to write a bad review of a book of essays so 
abysmal that I initially thought the volume must be a parody. The 
"editor," for example, according to the index, quoted himself no 
fewer than 130 times, and one essay, after announcing that the 
authors had nothing to say about the text in question, rewrote it as 
if it were written by [____________] (to identify it further would 
potentially reveal the identity). But while I thought long and hard 
about spending 700 words describing the brainrot of this book, and 
wondering in print just how it was that a reputable press could 
publish such trash, I decided against it because, in my experience, 
such a poisonous review, no matter how justified, always seems to 
redound against the credibility of the reviewer. This is not to say 
that I have not written negative reviews. I have. When I think there 
is shoddy scholarship, I can and will say so. But there are some 
books that are so preposterously awful that passing them over in 
(embarrassed) silence is the best policy.


At 08:22 PM 12/11/2008, you wrote:
>The whole point of
> >reviewing is to distinguish the good from the bad.  If "really bad books"
> >were always charitably "ignored," the only reviews printed would be
> >laudatory.  .
>And shoddy scholarship would pass unremarked - but become 'sources' 
>for others' work. It's like ignoring a bad apple in a bowl - it will 
>infect the rest.
>Cynthia A. Gilliatt
>English Department, JMU, ret.
>JMU Safe Zones supporter
>"You have made God in your own image when God hates the same people 
>you hate." Fr. John Weston
>Milton-L mailing list
>Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu
>Manage your list membership and access list archives at 
>Milton-L web site: http://johnmilton.org/

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