‘Tis the voice of the critic


Am I being oversensitive? I’m still smarting from an unprovoked comment posted on my LibraryThing profile page which declared that it’s “like the rest of your site — and especially your reviews — ‘over the top’ – and verbose!”

Over the top? Verbose? Really? For much social media I can see lengthy product reviews or Facebook comments may well be unwelcome, and of course on Twitter such verbosity would be impossible. But on a book-cataloguing and review site, where words are held in high esteem, how can one be so philistine? Especially as the writer — I won’t name and shame him — tells us that “in a former life I was an Assistant headteacher in a local comprehensive school. Now a freelance researcher into the rise and decline of ancient civilizations.”

For an ex-teacher, let alone an ex Assistant Head, to say such a thing makes my blood run cold. His own handful of reviews run from epigrammatic (“44 years old in 2014 – not a lot of use!”) to self-publicising (“I am doing a Masters in Classical Studies and I cannot fault the accuracy and detail …”), but they don’t tell me much about the value or content of the books themselves. It’s unclear who his review comments are aimed at — himself, perhaps? — though it’s crystal clear that my intended audience does not include him.

But his cutting and rather spiteful remark gave me pause. Am I in fact over the top in my statements or way of writing? And above all am I too verbose?

Continue reading “‘Tis the voice of the critic”