Over the holidays, my book received a positive advance review from Kirkus Reviews.
“With a firm command of U.S. politics and history and a matching wit, the author’s short essays present keen insights on figures ranging from President Donald Trump to former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel …
“Though politics is Murray’s bailiwick, it is his later reflections on the importance of communication in one’s personal life that stand out. Essays on the value and intersection of effective communication with marriage, grief, and technology provide a poignancy that transcends politics. …
“A smart, witty account of America’s failure to communicate.”
I received that not with pathetic gratitude or over-the-moon excitement, but with a satisfied nod. I mean, this is my best work. It had better be smart and witty.
“Imagine how bummed you’d be if the review was bad,” my pal Mike said.
Exactly the point—except “bummed” might not be the word.
I’ve read about writers enraged or crushed by bad reviews.
“I will hate you till the day I die, and wish you nothing but ill will in every career move you make,” said Alain de Botton to a New York Times reviewer of his book The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work. “I will be watching with interest and schadenfreude.”
Just a little more succinctly, Martin Amis said of a reviewer of his novel Yellow Dog: “Tibor Fischer is a creep and a wretch. Oh yeah: and a fat-arse.”
I hope I don’t get any bad reviews, because relevant past behavior indicates that I will be Amis-like in my response.
There have been just a couple of times in my career when I felt someone unfairly threatened my reputation and thus my livelihood. One of those times, I dreamed that I flew to the maligner’s city and strangled him at his desk; I still remember the look of surprise on his face. The other time, I actually took the Chicago Avenue bus downtown, stormed a mile up Michigan Avenue, burst into the office, waved the guy into a conference room and expressed my outrage with such ferocity that he began to hyperventilate and I had to calm him down.
Anyway, I was pleased with the Kirkus review.