Rotten Reviews Redux: A Literary Companion

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Overview

The revival of a nasty bestseller!
A quarter century ago Pushcart Press took aim at ridiculous reviews that had trashed literary masterpieces through the centuries. Over 175 attacks were quoted in a little book that itself became a best-selling classic. Today much has changed. The rise of digital self-publishing has fired up hundreds of critical blogs. As the cliché has it everybody is a critic – and they’re ...

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Overview

The revival of a nasty bestseller!
A quarter century ago Pushcart Press took aim at ridiculous reviews that had trashed literary masterpieces through the centuries. Over 175 attacks were quoted in a little book that itself became a best-selling classic. Today much has changed. The rise of digital self-publishing has fired up hundreds of critical blogs. As the cliché has it everybody is a critic – and they’re often anonymous and far from nice.
This collection, with a new introduction, by Pushcart editor Bill Henderson includes gems like:
“The final blow-up of what was once a remarkable, if minor. talent.” (The New Yorker, 1936, on William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!)
“Diffuse…brackish…pretentious.” (Virginia Wolfe, 1922, on James Joyce’s Ulysses)
“Whitman is as unacquainted with art as a hog is with mathematics.” (The London Critic, 1855, on Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass)
“It gasps for want of craft and sensibility.” (New York Times Book Review, 1961, on Joseph Heller’s Catch-22)

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

There is something uplifting, we have to admit, about a resoundingly negative review; excepting, of course, those in which are we ourselves are not the target of choice. Bill Henderson's previous Rotten Reviews stimulated readers' approval with its collection of harsh putdowns of classics; now he's back with another arsenal of spit-firing critiques of authors we love. Thus, we can smile archly as Virginia Woolf savages James Joyce's Ulysses as "diffuse....brackish....pretentious" and smirk when a now forgotten London magazine critic consigns Walt Whitman to literature's gutter. As Walter Benjamin once remarked, "Books and harlots always argue in public." In this book, they do so with uncommon passion. We can't think of a better gift for a would-be first novelist.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781888889680
  • Publisher: Pushcart Press, The
  • Publication date: 11/22/2012
  • Pages: 95
  • Sales rank: 1,429,516
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Bill Henderson is the founder and editor of the Pushcart Prize. He received the 2006 National Book Critic Circle’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the Poets & Writers / Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award. He is also the author of several memoirs, including All My Dogs: A Life. The founder of the Lead Pencil Club, Henderson lives in New York.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 18, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Review and then some...

    I have read too many so-called book reviews where it was patently obvious the 'Reviewer' did not know what it was all about or, had an odd intent! I appreciate this Literary Companion. Dag Stomberg

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