I know how it feels to be on the receiving end of these journalistic exercises. This unwanted education has made me a better critic, or at least a less clumsy and heavy-handed one.
A few days after Cormac McCarthy won the Pulitzer Prize for The Road, a piece of mine saying it was a really lousy book appeared in The Inquirer. I had not intended to write about it. I don’t especially like writing negative reviews. But the paperback of The Road had just arrived in my office and I had been paging through it and reading passages I thought underwhelming to my boss, who then begged me to write about it. So I did. So for a while I could tell friends to Google “Wilson Cormac Inquirer, asshole” so they could be entertained by all the people calling me an asshole for writing what I had about a book they thought was great. If they were trying to hurt my feelings, they failed. I had no affect regarding what they had said. Here is the review.