Bad Press: The Worst Critical Reviews Ever!

by Laura Ward

Hardcover, 2002




Barron's Educational Series, (2002)

User reviews

LibraryThing member richardderus
Rating: 3.5* of five

The Publisher Says: Here's a ferociously funny glimpse into the history of literary, theater, art, and general entertainment criticism. Excerpts of reviews are taken from magazines, newspapers, and, in at least one case, from the lips of a powerful European emperor. A complimentary review of most books, music recordings, or plays will often inspire audiences to accept them, but the review is usually forgotten while the work of art goes on to become famous. Readers won't find such reviews in this book, because the emphasis here is on fun. For sheer glee there is nothing like seeing a really venomous critic sharpen his or her claws on somebody's masterpiece. Sometimes the critics are right, but just as often they take journalistic pratfalls. Like many other Hapsburg Emperors who ruled the vast Austro-Hungarian Empire from its Vienna capital, Joseph II was a generous patron of the arts. But when he dismissed a Mozart symphony as "having too many notes," the rest of the music world could only smile. Henry James and Mark Twain were contemporary novelists, but neither writer understood or appreciated the other's genius. Twain once said of James: "Once you put down one of his books, you simply can't pick it up again." More scathing was the famous "New Yorker" magazine critic Dorothy Parker, who said of one now-forgotten book: "This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force." Readers will chuckle as they read damning reviews of books, music, plays, television shows, movies, and even restaurants. It's pure entertainment, with just a drop or two of poison.

My Review: This was a hoot and a holler. I enjoyed myself with frequent giggling and tittering, and other such synonyms for "was the right book for the mood."

It's not hard to find many of these quotes in multiple books. There's been a sizable shelf's-worth of these nicely designed, well-sourced, attractively designed gift books. Repetition is inevitable. Not necessarily lamentable, either, since each book is aimed at a specific market segment; inevitably someone will see a great quote in a collection they'd never buy for their own.

I loved many of the additions that I hadn't seen before. It's a delight to find them for me because I've read so durned many of the items in question.

So why review another one, given all that reading sitting on night-tables, bookshelves, know the drill.

I have tried lately to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me. CHARLES DARWIN are no words for the deep and lasting pleasure it gives me to hear one abhorred writer dismissing a forefather so utterly!

The greatest of superficial novelists...It were, in our opinion, an offence (sic) against humanity to place Mr. Dickens among the greatest novelists. HENRY JAMES

The happy, it flows and foams...there are good writers whose disdain for my bugaboo-book-makers is also complete.

And I found it good.
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