Last year, thanks to my friend across the pond, Amos Mallard, I read Carson McCuller’s The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Though there are some passages that may be offensive to our more enlightened sensibilities, it is nonetheless now in the top three of my all-time favorite novels. (Thanks for the recommendation, AM.) This is not a review, I just want to say that I agree with most people who consider the book a classic.
Then I came across this non-professional review (edited for a family-friendly format):
“This is one of the most atrocious books I’ve ever read. Over 300 pages of simple sentences, annoying repetitions, talentless descriptions, force-fed conclusions and moral lessons, and maudlin two-dimensional characters. It was a pain to go on after 50 pages, but I kept hoping that the characters might grow some sort of backbone and be cured of McCullers’s boring style. Beware: this does not happen. Boredom and desperation levels skyrocket after a while and the book just grows dismally pathetic. It rarely sounds plausible, and all characters seem to be a different version of just one; even the way they speak is always the same. Essentially, they are criminally deprived of personality and endowed with rage-invoking repetitious ideas.
Unfortunately that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The faults of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter lie deep and spread wide. I have rarely been so disappointed with a book.”
So, fellow artists, when considering the words of critics, remember that not everyone thinks van Gogh was a genius. Some think Beethoven is boring. And I read another reviewer who thought To Kill a Mockingbird was “a sorry excuse for a book.”
A grain of salt, my friends. Maybe more.