Addendum to Issue #51 (May 3, 1998)

Since posting my review of Heart's Desire and my most recent column, I've been reading a lot about both on the listservs and have received a great deal of mail as well.

Many who posted to the lists did so without having read the review itself, which is mainly about my problems with character and plot, not the two lines at the very end where I questioned the multicultural aspect of the book. Of the personal mail I have received, one message read, in part, "I also review books and even if I don't like something I take the author's feelings into account when I'm writing the review." My response is that I doubt Gene Siskel takes into account the feelings of a director when he gives a strong thumbs down to a movie he's reviewing. I continue to believe that many readers and authors of romance are insulated against the type of reviews that appear in mainstream publications because they rely on magazines such as Romantic Times and The Literary Times, which write reviews which many believe are more p.r. clippings than true reviews.

Another reader, and aspiring author, wrote that she was taught if "you don't like a book to such an intense degree, that you step back and pass it along to someone who can give it an objective look." She added that it is not "our goal as reviewers" to discourage readers from trying books. She wrote, "Our goal should be to encourage readers to try something new, even if we ourselves found it lacking." Finally, she wrote that ,"if you can't find anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

While I disagree with both of these women, I'd like to hear from you. Do you have something to say about whether reviewers should consider the artist's feeling when reviewing their work - be it a film, a television show, or a book. Should reviewers not review books they dislike intensely? What is the goal of the reviewer - should we encourage the reading of books we like and discourage the reading of books we don't like or should we encourage readers to try things we "find lacking"?

As to the multicultural portion of my column, anyone who has read the column for any length of time will realize that I like to push buttons, to get people to think in ways they hadn't considered. If my argument that color-neutral books are not really multicultural at all seems wrong to you, let's talk about it. Perhaps color-neutral books are most multicultural of them all.

Laurie Likes Books

Post your comments and/or questions to our Potpourri Message Board

Click here to join aarmaillist
Click to subscribe to AAR's twice-monthly mailing list