Liberal Fascism

Reviewing the Reviewers

A friend sends this advice, which I hear often:

Hi Jonah,

Just FYI – most authors agree that it’s usually a bad idea to attempt

responding to negative reviews.  Even when you’re completely correct, it

tends to come off as a little defensive and therefore weak.  If someone

writes something egregiously ridiculous, I suggest merely noting the

fact that the review exists, providing a link, and perhaps offering to

debate the reviewer over the Internet.  Since most will fear taking you

up on it, you’ll end up looking much better and you won’t be perceived

as whining about the review.  And if they do take you up on it, you

should be able to blow their doors off and end up looking even better.

Do what you like, of course, I just thought perhaps the perspective

might help.

Me: I look forward to some interesting debates down the line, and I think I probably should be less intemperate. But I’m a big believer in reviewing reviewers. Lord knows I’m not responding to 99% of the idiocy being thrown at me. But Neiwart read the book, is writing for a real publication and I thought deserved a real response. I plan on doing more of this because I think it’s important. If it makes me look thin-skinned, that’s unfortunate because I think the opposite is pretty obviously the case given all the stuff thrown at me. But if it make me look that way, so be it.   It’s easier to enjoy life when you feel you didn’t let people get away with b.s. when you had the chance.

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