Lileks Once Again ...
LILEKS (James) the bleat:
"The worst part: Culling books. It’s hard work, and you feel a sense of shame when you find a good old book that once meant much; not only don’t you remember what it was about – I mean really about, not just jacket-copy blurb meaning – you’re consigning it to the storage room, a crypt from which it will never return. For decades I’ve had a book of Anthony Burgess’ book reviews on my shelf. I opened to the prologue, which has this entry about the reviewer’s inclination to go easy on his captives:I think I have to agree with Mr. Lileks about reading your reviews. Not that I've had that particular pleasure, but I do think I'll probably pass if and when the opportunity arises!
“Book-writing is hard on the brain and excruciating to the body; it engenders tobacco-addiction, an over-reliance on caffeine and Dexedrine, piles, dyspepsia, chronic anxiety, sexual impotence. Behind the new bad book one is asked to review lie untold misery and very little hope. One’s heart, stomach and anal tract go out to the doomed aspirant.”
-- Anthony Burgess, “Urgent Copy.”
Of course, I always assume the opposite, which is why I cannot read reviews. I apologize to reviewers, and beg their pity. I broke down a few weeks ago and noted a review in a rather prominent journal, written by a marvelous writer I have long admired, and while it was all quite flattering I took away one sentence that made me feel as if I have been on a great, steep, flaming, public decline for the last half decade. I do not think this was the author’s intention. But: it’s better for an author to be motivated by hunger than satiation; it’s the difference between, say, “Garp” and “Hotel New Hampshire.”"