A long time ago, in a land far away, there were people who paid me to give my opinions on TV programmes. At the same time, I was also working in the theatre, and knew first-hand how devastating a harsh review could be, both on a personal and commercial level. What I learned from it was that no matter how rubbish something might seem – be it a film, play or book – someone somewhere had put their heart and soul into creating it, and had been brave enough to put their efforts out into the world to be judged. That doesn’t mean I believe you should never be critical, it can be very constructive as long as there’s balance. But eviscerating someone’s work to sound witty and knowing in your review is a cheap trick. It’s the mean girl at school saying, “What ARE you wearing?” for laughs.
One of the things I’d like to do on this blog is to review books. To get around the problem of slagging off writers who – let’s face it – have accomplished something I haven’t merely by getting published, I’m only going to review books that have made an impression on me. Books that I would recommend to people I like and buy for people I love.
I’m still working on it, but I’ll be starting with Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper, as charming a writer as you could hope to read.