Letters 12.17.08

Everyone's a critic

Re Kevin Baker's 'Word War III!' [December 10–16]: Wow. What a whiner. So you guys are really telling me that the Internet is full of hostility? What next? An exposé on how the sky is blue?

Darin Strauss's Chang and Eng book sounds interesting, but as a person, he sounds like an elitist bitch crying foul at any opportunity. Actually, with that dead biker story, he sounds like a textbook sociopath trying to manipulate the world into feeling sorry for him.

Tim Lieder
via internet

Instead of disparaging bloggers, why not blog and generate publicity for your books so that more than three people show up in Arkansas?

As far as an MFA goes, anyone with a pulse and a laptop can earn one (but that's just my personal bias, as I have a science degree—a rarity in the writing field), and I'm tired of writers who hold academic posts, earn big paychecks as faculty members, and still have the nerve to kvetch. Get out into the real world—you know, "the road" that evidently causes you so much anguish—and get some life experience. Quit your bellyaching.

via internet

I always respond to blog comments on my books. With negative comments, I thank the reader for doing me the honor of spending several hours giving me their attention—and it is an honor, given all the choices out there.

If they have made factual errors, I try to correct them. As for their opinions: Whatever reaction a person has to your book, no matter how strange, the reaction is real and valid for that person. Every reader is different and will respond differently to your book. Treat your critics with respect, and they will respect you. Be a diplomat. Even when the other guy is batsh*t.

Joe Cottonwood
via internet

I heard you on NPR and thought your piece was well-crafted, honest. It's one of the few radio stories that stays with me. As a university instructor, I also suffer from misinterpretation and nasty responses. I work to force students to "think," and I receive peculiar student evaluations, most quite illiterate. One simply said, "She should be shot." Another: "She talked about stuff I never heard of before"—as if that were a bad thing.

I worked as a newspaper reporter for six years as well, and it was a rare day when I didn't get at least one phone call from an angry reader, usually over something I viewed as silly.

Penelope Reedy
via internet

Watching the watchdog

Re Wayne Barrett's 'Ed Towns, Watchdog? Has Congress Forgotten Ed's Past?' [villagevoice.com, December 9]: Lemme get this right. The day before a guy gets a chairmanship, some hack journalist who's held a grudge for 30 years brings back up a (non)story of association politics? Wayne, you oughta be ashamed of yourself. That's why you don't write for The New York Times. What a piece of bunk journalism.

Chris Kelley
via internet

Slaughterhouse jive

Re Elizabeth Dwoskin's 'The Fall of the House of Rubashkin' [December 3–9]: I applaud this necessary and disturbing article. However, the classic definition of anti-Semitism is singling out a Jew for actions that have been conducted by non-Jews as well.

With that in mind, I hope that The Village Voice will expose the non-kosher-meat distributors. Anything less is irresponsible journalism and proof positive that Jews are being singled out for crimes others commit as well.

Avraham Greenhut
via internet

Wanted: Arts interns

The Voice is accepting applications for its winter/spring arts internships. Applicants should be excellent writers and be familiar with New York's theater, film, art, or books scenes. The internships, which are part-time and unpaid, are limited to enrolled college or graduate students who are able to earn academic credit for their participation.

Applicants should mail or e-mail a cover letter, résumé, and writing samples to Brian Parks, Arts and Culture Editor, The Village Voice, 36 Cooper Square, New York, New York 10003 (bparks@villagevoice.com). Applications are due by January 1.

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