Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Be careful who you piss off in print 

Mel Gussow's profile of Jim Crace reveals the author of GENESIS (actually, it's SIX) to be a rather affable sort. However, there are times when the cheerful veneer falls abruptly away:

Provocative novels of ideas, the books have received negative as well as positive reviews. Mr. Crace does not respond to the criticism, assuming that the bruises will disappear. This is why a recent episode in Toronto, where he took part in a book fair, seemed so out of character. One London critic, D. J. Taylor, has repeatedly and personallyattacked him in print. In Toronto Mr. Crace was sitting at a table with Helen Dunmore and other writers, he said, when Mr. Taylor suddenly approached and was introduced to the group. "I know everybody here," he said, "except for this gentleman," indicating Mr. Crace.

"You may not know me," Mr. Crace said, icily, "but I've been on the receiving end of your needless venom four or five times too often." The critic said, "Not venom, just appropriate critical response." Mr. Crace continued excoriating him. As he recalled: "The whole room went silent. Everyone knew me as a cheerful sort of fellow. I was told afterward that now he is very frightened of me. I've never scared anybody in my life."

Granted, I haven't found any additional evidence of Taylor critiquing Crace's works, but if he really went to the well four or five times, that does seem a bit much. A negative review--par for the course. Two--pushing it, but OK. After that, I wouldn't bother reviewing the author's work ever again, no matter how much fun it would be excoriating said person in print.

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