Bad Press: The Worst Critical Reviews Ever!

by Laura Ward

Hardcover, 2002

Status

Available

Publication

Barron's Educational Series, (2002)

Description

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 AustroHungarian 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.… (more)

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, boxes...you know the drill.

I have tried lately to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me. CHARLES DARWIN

I...it...there 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.
… (more)
LibraryThing member KurtWombat
For a fair part of the way through this book I did a pretty good job of convincing myself that it was a pretty good collection. But alas the truth won out as the fatigue of reading too many dusty white brit reviews that packed little or no punch diluted the power of the sharp wit that does pop up now and again throughout this work. For every delightful Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde and Dorothy Parker quote, there were several by people I've never heard of about people I've never heard of the wit of which does not survive without context. Too often I felt like I was overhearing parts of a conversation from across cigar smoke filled room where the self congratulating laughter drowns the punch line. Assume this is lazy curation where diamonds and rocks were collected without concern to which might shine.… (more)

Language

Original language

English

Barcode

11076
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