Wednesday, December 04, 2013

The Critics

Don't always believe the press. Good or bad.

Some time back I stopped paying attention to most critics. I've never really found a critic of music, literature, or film that matches my own tastes. And so I try to ignore most of the professional critics. One thing that really sent this home for me were the critical reviews of the film THE LIMEY starring Terrence Stamp. Every review that I saw for it either ravaged it or deemed it tepid. And so I avoided the film. Later--much later, I rented it on a whim and found it to be a particularly effective movie.

Since, I've pretty much ignored the professional critics.

This past week I ordered a number of books written by an author of whom I had heard many good things. For decades I had somehow avoided his work, despite the glowing reviews I had read and the gushing praise from other writers and from his fan base. The only excuse I have for not having read his work is that I am a voracious reader and frankly there was a wall of books to be read standing in the way.

At last, though, I ordered just about everything the guy has written and all of the books arrived by post this week. The first book was the one that had received the most praise, so that's where I started.

And now a short digression. An old acquaintance of mine, a writer/publisher named Dave Wilson long ago stated that writers should not malign the work of their fellow authors. After some thought, I decided to take his advice under my wing. Being a writer is tough enough without having to endure the savaging from other writers. And everything being equal, what I like may not be your cup of tea. And what I hate someone else might actually adore.

So. I opened the package and began to read this supposed classic of weird fiction.

I found it to be almost uniformly awful. This particular writer has another profession--writing being a sideline for him--and that expertise in his field rises to the fore. It must be what impressed so many reviewers. Beyond that, the stories and novels are really quite bad. He's educated...I'll give him that. But his work is tired and lost and seems composed of smoke and mirrors.

Once again, I had believed the press. This time the good press. I had been sorely misled.

I should have just ordered the first book and let that settle me. But, no, I ordered pretty much the writer's entire body of work. I am looking forward to ridding my library of that stuff.

THE LIMEY. A fine film. But don't take my word for it. Make up your own mind.


Vicki said...

I learned a long time ago to ignore the critics -- good and bad -- and make up my own mind. More often than not when a critic savages a book, movie or TV programme, I know I'm going to enjoy it. :)

I hope that writer's entire body of work wasn't too many books...

James Robert Smith said...

Four books. Not quite everything the dude has written. But three more than I should have bought.

Mark Gelbart said...

I think I'm the only person on earth who thinks Kevin Costner's movie, The Postman, was a classic.

James Robert Smith said...

I didn't care for THE POSTMAN. Too many things about it bothered me. I much prefer Costner's other sf movie, WATERWORLD.

Mark Gelbart said...

I liked Waterworld too. Just because it was overbudget doesn't mean it was a bad movie.

James Robert Smith said...

There were many aspects of WATERWORLD that I liked. Not quite sure why it was so universally panned.