The Hothouse and the Heuristic

imageI thought my Gestalt Real-Time Reviewing page, where I am now celebrating five years of carrying out such reviewing, would be an ideal place briefly to give my view on one or two aspects of fiction reviewing in these days of the internet.

I see two main areas:

(1) The Hothouse, something that might once have been called the small press where perpetrators of one or more of writing, publishing and reviewing fiction use the internet. Authorial input on their own works would seem natural in such an interactive or interdisciplinary or instinctive environment, particularly when personal push comes to shove. But authors (who are themselves often publishers and/or reviewers) are still controlled by the strictures of review tradition, by not mixing in with the discussions about reviews of their own books, except ‘in extremis’, and even then often with unwelcome repercussions for the author.

(2) The books that sell, say, in thousands, with large reader-only fanbases. Authors publicly mixing in here with the discussions of a review of their own books with such readers would seem to me to be always inadvisable or counterproductive.

I recognise that there can be an overlap of the above two areas.

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My personal view has always been that any review should avoid being extremely negative in a mocking or tendentious way (as opposed to being simply negative – which is fine). There is always the option of not reviewing a particular book or of giving it to another reviewer.

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A separate question also arises whether an author should issue an extremely negative review of a book by another author, a question that I note has already been broached on the internet. Or a small press publisher personally reviewing another small press publisher’s product very negatively?

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As to my own ‘gestalt real-time reviewing’, I actually buy books for my leisure reading as well as for such internet review activity, well-chosen books that I instinctively believe I shall enjoy. If you read my reviews of these books, you should get a picture of my literary approach. This activity is in tune with the main thrust of the reviewing principles HERE. That is my fallible, heuristic aim, anyway.

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Someone rightly said a few weeks ago that there are no longer any ivory towers for authors. But what about for reviewers? Discuss.

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None of the above is about any specific reviews; it is simply my perception of perceptions these changing days.

5 thoughts on “The Hothouse and the Heuristic

  1. To start any discussion, below is an associated point, but one of a more tentative or academic nature:

    I have believed in the literary theory of ‘The Intentional Fallacy’ since I first encountered it in the mid 1960s. Whether I am right or wrong in this belief is, I accept, arguable but it is a sincere philosophy of mine. Not something to be covered briefly here. But what I will say is that this literary theory broadly suggests, inter alia, that once a book is posited in the audience arena, it then becomes the possession of all its readers, including its author who, I argue, has no more or no less fallibility, no more or no less rights, than any other reader. Hence my recent reviews of or commentaries on some books for which I was responsible, as well as my gestalt real-time reviewing since 2008.

    So every author is a potential reviewer of their own book?

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