Critics

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Seals on Chunks of Glacier, Tracey Arm Fjord, Alaska

Readers are probably aware that I am a fan of the book 13 Reasons Why, by Jay Asher. I’ve reviewed the book on Amazon if you’re interested, although there are so many reviews, you may never be able to find it. Now the book has been adapted into a series and released by Netflix. And, of course, there are reviews of that popping up every day. I probably won’t review the series, because I don’t produce movies, but I can state, with just one episode left to watch, that I have enjoyed it greatly. I do want to talk about this one review of the series, however.

I’m honestly not sure who wrote that review. It says “revised by” or something like that at the top. But, it’s the review, which is a criticism, itself, that I am writing about. The reviewer liked the series, but not the book. And that’s fine. You can read the review to find out why, but for my purposes, I’m fine with anyone having an opinion, and offering said opinion for public consumption. No problem there. But, at one point the review states, and this is a quote, “It is not a good book.” Interesting. On the New York Times Bestseller list for years (literally,) bought by millions of people, recipient of eight (8) awards for excellence at last count, well, check out the Wikipedia page on the book to learn more. And thus is illustrated my problem with critics. Whoever wrote that review calls it a bad book, because I suppose they know better than all of those others who have loved it enough to garner for it all those awards and praise? Take a lesson, friends: remember that your opinions are your opinions, and everybody has one of those, right?

This is not the first time I’ve been offended by a critic, far from it. In college I read (as an assignment) a critique of Stopping by a Woods on a Snowy Day by Robert Frost. That critique was by John Ciardi, who, I have to admit, has cred. And he didn’t badmouth Frost at all, but he did go into painful detail as to the meaning of every line, comma, nuance, and stanza of the poem. And I thought as I read, “How dim must one be to not see what Frost is getting at, here?” Really, he means that he’s got things to do before he dies? Wowzers! How profound! I imagine that the instructor was hoping to convert some people to a love of poetry, but I don’t think that boring them with a detailed analysis of a beautiful poem is going to do the job. A poem, it seems to me, speaks for itself. If you don’t see those chickens next to the wheelbarrow, that’s okay too. Do something else.

The moral of this post is that you should, as with anything else, take what you can from your critics, and leave the rest lie. That review of the series makes some decent points. Too bad they had to spoil it, huh?