Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Heroes and Villains

And no I don't mean that great overlooked Beach Boys song.

TCM is running a short piece that offers different Hollywood opinions of Alfred Hitchcock the man. David Raskin fairly spits when talking about AH. Martin Landau canonizes him.

I've always run into the same disparity of opinions when I've recommended agents to other writers. Agent A is a career-saving man among men who once dragged three orphans from a burning fire with his teeth. That's one opinion. The other opinion has it that Agent B is a sub-literate crook who takes the first offer an editor makes. And after he rescued three orphans from a burning fire with his teeth, he sold them to a sex-slave operation.

And then of course we have book reviews. How is it possible that a novel is brilliant and an abomination to another? After the AH bit I picked up a magazine that reviewed a novel I'd recently read. I'd seen only one review of it and that had been the type your Mom would write. But the review I read today was written by someone who seemed to have a personal grudge against the writer (as perhaps he does--you never know).

I mention all this because a reader wrote me about how difficult conflicting reviews make it for the book buyer. True enough. In self-defense I've developed a list of reviewers whose judgement I trust. Don't always agree with them. But in many instances their rationale for liking or disliking a book seems reasonable and informed to me. Though here you run into the rep of the reviewers. There are two whose work I like especially. But there's a group who dismiss them superficial and dull.

The late Pavoratti, as I've mentioned here before, said that all you can do is play to those who love you. It's difficult for some of us to imagine that there is somewhere in the vast universe who actually dislikes our work--or worse, dislikes us personally.

Catch the the clever TCM piece on AH and you'll begin to understand the wisdom of Shakespeare's advice to keep your own counsel. Despite what some of those crummy sleazy twisted bastards might think.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Confusing ain't it? After a recent nostalga-fueled spate of re-reading/re-watching old favorites- for me unprecedented- and being almost relentlessly disappointed in stuff I always thought I loved, I'm not even sure I trust my own opinion anymore. mtm