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Reviewers and Novelists

Jeffrey Cohen has done both. He’s been a reviewer and he’s a novelist. His perspective on getting a bad review is interesting. The review he received was one of those: Chop off the writer’s fingers, then hands, and finally arms, toss them in a velvet bag and burn it in bonfire on the fifty yard line as half-time entertainment. Make certain the stadium is filled with 50,000 wannabe writers who need a lesson about writing crap.

That kind of twisted, nasty review that makes you wince like you are watching an autopsy. But the person isn’t quite dead. Oh, oh, that looks like it hurts. But, hey he volunteered for this, doesn’t he know when you go through that door marked published writer that he entered into a world of hurt? Ignore his screams of pain. He deserves having the top of his skull sawed off. No brain of any consequence inside? It doesn’t matter, he’s dead now.

As a novelist, he has admitted to having second thoughts about his own file cabinet of bad reviews written about other people’s creative work.

“The relationship between authors and reviewers is a very complex one. Having done both, I can tell you that neither is easy, neither pays especially well except at the very top of the profession, and both are done for the sheer love of the form in almost every case. I've written reviews that I wish I could take back (all negative ones, even when the film/book/play/record in question was truly awful--I was snarky and shouldn't have been), some that I would hold up for all the world to see and some that, well, I had a deadline and it was a slow week.”

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