I’m Not Worthy

I’m not sure what is the funniest thing I’ve heard today: Monica Goodling’s statements in front of the Judiciary Commitee or this comment by Sheila Kohler, who’s just published a historical novel:

Q. Does your work get reviewed/discussed much on literary blogs? If so, how do those reviews compare with print reviews of your books?

A.Occasionally someone may mention my books in a blog. I believe the dangers of this indiscriminate reporting on books is that people who have no knowledge of literature can air their views as though they were of value and may influence readers. Critics may not always be right, of course, but at least they have read and studied literature, the great books, and have some outside knowledge to refer to when critiquing our work.

Well, I’m suitably humbled. In fact, as a mere blogger, I’m not worthy of even peeking inside this novel, much less reading it. And I would certainly hate to soil this author’s pristine royalty check with my filthy blogger money. So I’ll keep my grubby mitts off it.

But Kohler has a point. The problem is, however, that indiscriminate reporting on books often starts with indiscriminate reading of books. So to nip this problem in the bud, I suggest that booksellers band together to form a rating system under which only customers with certain academic credentials would be allowed to buy certain books. Books rated “P,” for instance, could be sold only to people with M.F.A’s in creative writing from Ivy League and Seven Sisters colleges and universities. Books rated “O” could be sold only to people with M.F.A.’s in creative writing from other colleges. And so forth, down to the unwashed masses of people who buy books because they like a good story, who could read books rated “G.”

This method isn’t foolproof (credentials could be falsified, and some booksellers might not participate), but it’s a step toward making sure Real Literature gets only in the right hands.

12 thoughts on “I’m Not Worthy”

  1. Bugger! I’m not qualified to read!! Wwwaahhh! I guess I will just have to go and find a new interest that I am qualified for.

  2. I can’t believe she said something like that. I don’t know if I would have read this book anyways, but I totally will not be now!

  3. I should review more books.

    And if someone complains that I’m a mere blogger, I’ll send them a copy of my MA. Because I do have a degree in Literature, among others. 🙂

  4. There are quite a lot of critics up in arms right now about blog-reviews, and they all sound like Ms. Kohler: defensive and ridiculous.

    But. Your response is the best I’ve seen. Hope she and the rest of the “real critics” see it.


    {interestingly, the word verification for this comment is “bigote”–I kid you not}

  5. Who died and made her the book review God??

    I may not have a degree in literature, but I’m an intelligent person and I know what I like and what I don’t. I don’t always agree with the so-called experts on anything – books, movies, etc – and a book doesn’t have to be a “great” piece of literature in order to be enjoyable.

    Besides, I think the blogging community is a great way to get the word out about books. Even bad “press” is sometimes better than none at all!

  6. Absolutely, a rating system and strict controls are just what’s needed. Imagine letting people read whatever they like and make up their own minds about it!

  7. Susan Higginbotham

    Cat., thanks!

    Off to prune my library of books that are beyond my intellectual grasp . . .

  8. Susan Higginbotham

    Thanks, Jeri! Alison, be careful with that indiscriminate reading. You never know what might happen.

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