(I haven’t heard much muttering from the professional reviewers since this was posted back in 2011, but then again, I stopped listening quite awhile ago. Still it is a topic that rears itself every now and then. I’m still on the side of the Amateurs.)
Morris Dickstein, Professional Critic and Professor of English, “The professional reviewer, who has a literary identity, who had to meet some editor’s exacting standard, has effectively been replaced by the Amazon reviewer, the paying customer, at times ingenious, assiduous, and highly motivated, more often banal, obtuse, and blankly opinionated,”
Ozick, a novelist and essayist , made what she called the “disheartening” case that the most committed American readers are the Amazon customer reviewers. “Not only are they willing to buy books consistently, not as a now-and-then event; they also are intent on evaluating them in a public way, and they devote time and effort to fashioning a response. In short, they are serious about the meaning and effect of books, exactly what we would call a literary point of view.”
So what does this mean to an amateur reviewer like me. Well….I guess it means that I irritate the professionals a tad. It probably means that they think I have no business calling my opinions “reviews”. Somehow I just can’t get worked up about it.
Am I “banal and obtuse”? Perhaps. I’d rather think I was ingenious and assiduous and at least moderately motivated. 🙂 Do I still think my opinion is worth the read? Hell yes!
I am an avid reader so I figure my contribution is to let those readers, who share my proclivities, know what I think of a particular read. Maybe in my naiveté I missed the allegory or even the well hidden theme of the book, but I’m betting that most genre readers are not going to fault me for those oversights. They just want to know if I resent the money I paid or if I felt it was worth skipping the Starbucks coffee to buy this book. They want to know if they should schedule this read for a Friday night so they can sleep-in on Saturday morning. They want to know if the book is uplifting or depressing, violent or sweet, sexy or not.
Yes, my reviews are “opinions” as are all reviews whether by amateurs or pros. I don’t think for a minute that amateur reviewers will infringe on professional literary critics. Usually we are talking about different things. Anyone who reads Amazon reviews for deep insight might just be missing the point of those reviews.
The Pros are going to have to make room for us amateurs. Times they are a changing and all those ensconced in the “good ole days” are going to feel displaced. This is how it has always been. Ya think Henry Ford didn’t get flack from the horse breeders?
What do you think?