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Monday, October 13, 2014

The Lost Art of the Insult—or—How to Write a Bad Review Guest Blog with Patricia Knight

The Lost Art of the Insult—or—How to Write a Bad Review

I despair at today’s critiques. If authors are supposed to write to the average level of our reader – 4th grade – how are we ever going to get truly well-written bad reviews? It has become a dying art. It was not always this way. There have been deadly clever and deeply scathing comments on books, plays, opera and on and on.

George S. Kaufman, one of American’s foremost comedic playwrights and literary critics, summed up a review of a fellow playwright’s work with the following acerbic comment:

“I understand your play is full of single entendres.”

Wow. Kneecapped. Of course, you do have to know what an ‘entendre’ is and how it is commonly used. I don’t think they covered a French colloquialism in 4th grade English. 

Kaufman was on the receiving end of some zingers, too. Dorothy Parker, noted American wit and author once commented on a play Kaufman directed:

“This play is so poorly directed it wouldn’t
fill the house if it was the
 Last Supper staring the original cast.”

This of course, presupposes that you know what the Last Supper is, and who sat at the table. If, according to “Jay-Walking”, young people have problems identifying the Eiffel Tower or The White House, I doubt that a reference to the classical painting of Jesus and his disciples by Leonardo da Vinci is going to compute.

Here is Parker, again about one of Kaufman’s leading ladies (Katherine Hepburn):

“She runs the gamut of emotions from A to B.”

Ouch. But one has to admit, that’s a clever insult. And I could go on and on with “Parkerisms”:
“The affair between Margot Asquith and Margot Asquith will
live as one of the prettiest love stories in all literature.”

An oblique way of saying the author was in love with herself if ever I heard one.  Of course, you could have written the book that Ambrose Bierce said this about:

“The covers of this book are too far apart.”

And even famous classics have come in for their share of scathing put-downs (pun intended).

“Paradise Lost is a book, that once put down, is very hard to pick up again.”

Samuel Johnson said that about John Milton’s epic poem! (I agree with Samuel Johnson.)

But! Hope is on the horizon. I have discovered that Goodreads has a “favorite review” contest every year and started to peruse the various reviews. 

I came to a startling conclusion. “Gifs” (you know those files that show moving clips of movies or characters doing funny things) are being used to illustrate reviews. 

Some of them are extraordinarily creative—and howlingly funny. 

For example check this out: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/340987215 

So, perhaps originality and wit has not been lost after all. It has simply taken another form. Like the written book, reviews have simply gone digital. In the final analysis, if you care about the written word, if books have entertained you or made you throw them across the room in disgust, please leave a review. Your fellow readers will thank you, and so will the author.


Hers to Claim
Book Four in the Verdantian Series
Patricia A Knight

Genre: Adult, Sci/Fi, Fantasy Romance 18+

Publisher: Troll River Publications                                                  

Number of pages: 360
Word Count:  90,637

Cover Artist: Skylar Faith

Book Description:

A prince from the Nyth Uchel mountains … a healer from the Oshtech desert …

Scornfully rejected by her desert lover and uncertain of her place in the world, Adonia traveled a perilous road to the fabled mountain-city of Nyth Uchel. She came to heal the sick and dying, but in the arms of highborn prince, Hel, Adonia found the answer to saving herself.

Descended from nobility, once great kings of Verdantia, Hel willingly bore the burden of his dying city and its people on his shoulders. Watching helplessly as a malingering evil attacked the very soil under his feet, he crushed his pride to summon help. He’d been staggered to discover the answer to saving his city and perhaps all Verdantia might lie behind a heavy fall of chocolate hair and shy brown eyes.

As their entire planet faces an encroaching black death, two seemingly disparate individuals forge a partnership of love and sacrifice that will alter their future forever. All of Verdantia will be tested.

Stand alone. Not a cliff-hanger. HEA 360 pages. M/F, Mild D/s themes, light spanking, and an over-sexed but sensitive prince with a hero complex.

Buy it at Amazon  Kobo Smashwords

About the Author

Patricia A. Knight is the pen name for an eternal romantic who lives in Dallas, Texas with her horses, Italian Greyhounds, "Gidget the Rescue Chihuahua"—and the best man on the face of the earth—oh yeah, and the most enormous bullfrogs you will ever see.

Word to the wise: don’t swim in the pool after dark.

She loves to hear from readers and can be reached online


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