Monday, June 29, 2009

Alice Hoffman: Will You Still Buy Her Book?

Has everyone seen the Alice Hoffman kerfluffle yet?

In a nutshell: Roberta Silman at the Boston Globe reviewed her latest book, The Story Sisters, and gave it what's being called "a lukewarm review." (Here is the Boston Globe Link (opens in new window).

It's not a glowing review, but I wouldn't call it "lukewarm" either. Silman has done her homework, and she's obviously familiar with (and has even enjoyed) Hoffman's earlier works. But, Silman does say that the book, "...lacks the spark of the earlier work. Its vision, characters, and even the prose seem tired. Too much of it is told rather than shown..."

She does have nice things to say about the book, too: "Admittedly, there are some wonderful passages as the book winds to a close - about the heirloom tomatoes Annie grew in her garden and how Claire learns to design jewelry"

Hoffman responded by tweeting Silman's phone number and email address and told her readers to "Tell her what u think of snarky critics."

Hoffman also disparaged Silman: "Roberta Silman in the Boston Globe is a moron. How do some people get to review books?"

And then Hoffman put down the Boston Globe: "No wonder there is no book section in the Globe anymore - they don't care about their readers, why should we care about them"

I double-checked my Project 100 list to see if I had planned to read any Hoffman. I'm glad to see that I hadn't, because I'd be giving serious consideration to removing those books from my list.

What about you? Would these kind of tantrums from an author make you run out and buy the book, or maybe burn the books sitting on your shelf?


Amanda said...

The only thing I ever read by her was Practical Magic, and thought that one was so badly written that I've never bothered with anything else. This whole hissy fit thing, however, makes me disrespect her as a person. She really shot herself in the foot with this.

moonrat said...

I'm a total cult-of-the-author type person. Knowing an author has done something unbecoming, catty, rude, or snobby really turns me off to their work. I can't help it; I'm an editor, and I'm interested in authors as people, not just in books as works of art.

I know she reacted emotionally, but I wish for her she hadn't. I'm not sure how I, as a reader, could get over that little mental block about her.

Emily Cross said...

I agree with MR - i'm more than likely going to read practical magic at some point but similar to robin hobb's rant, it will stick in my mind and will colour my opinion of the writer and their books. (sadly)

Why can't all writers be like Neil Gaiman?

Jen A said...

The only book I've read of hers was The Third Angel...color me not impressed, despite the fact that I think it has one of the most beautiful covers I've ever seen. I wasn't planning to read any more of her books anyway because I didn't see much substance there, but I agree - a hissy fit like this is subpar behavior. People get worse reviews than that all the time and don't behave in such an adolescent manner. *SIGH* Why can't we all just get along?

Rachel said...

I was turned off by Annie Proulx's response to the Best Picture Oscar victory of "Crash," as opposed to "Brokeback Mountain." Makes me not want to read any more of her. (I really liked both of those movies.)

Trixie said...

I'm in the middle of re-reading Practical Magic. Loved it the first time, but this time it doesn't feel so sparkly to me. I haven't figured out yet why I liked it so much in the first place except for the parts where the character wrote down exactly what she wanted and then her husband came along (if I remember correctly, not there yet). I totally believe in that kind of magic and have done that myself a few times now.
I also loved Annie Proulx's Shipping News, but I'm repeatedly getting burned saying that about books I haven't read in years. Have my tastes really matured that much? I mean, I don't like wine in a box anymore either, but c'mon.

Jennie said...

I don't think I was going to anyway, but now I really don't want to. So immature!

Anonymous said...

I hadn't planned to read any Hoffman and after this, I probably won't plan to. Invasion of privacy and fit-throwing to rival a teenager? Not something that makes me interested in an author.

J.C. Montgomery said...

I have several of her books on my TBR pile. Not sure what I'm going to do.

I'm sure in the day, people may have felt the same about people like Hunter S. Thompson, Ernest Hemingway, and others whose personal lives were quite messy and quite public.

I think I may treat this the same way and read her books, and judge them simply by how they are written - not by who wrote them.

Mya Barrett said...

Writer's are a passionate lot, but you'd like to think that they would be grown up enough to take a deep breath before doing something so blatantly immature.

Don't have any of her books on my list, but to be honest, I'd probably read them anyway. Sort of like watching a movie with an actor I might not care for on a personal level. You watch for the art of it.