Anakana Schofield – Award Winning Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

CWILA Interview on Criticism

Canadian Women in the Literary Arts interviewed me on the topic of criticism. Thank you to Gillian Jerome for her thoughtful questions.

You can read the interview here and I look forward to hearing responses to the questions I posed at the end about the history of critique in Canada and whether there’s any correlation in the increase in creative writing programs and the decrease in literary criticism. (if in fact there is a decrease, I personally think there is but could stand corrected).


2 Responses to “CWILA Interview on Criticism”

  • Bill says:

    You started out by saying that you “received so little response or engagement” to the criticism you wrote. There aren’t any comments here yet so maybe it seems like the old days. I look at it as a chance to get in a comment without getting swamped by those more talented, comment-wise, than me. I’ve been watching your Twitter updates ever since I read your book, and it seems like the there is a whole lot more eager response there. I don’t find the Twitter feed uninteresting, but I don’t think there has been anything I would have commented on – assuming I was a Follower and not snooping with a browser. Anyway, I think you need more than what Twitter allows, to do what you do best. When your Twitter feed draws people in the way it does, you probably have to wonder though.

    It seems to me that 30-40 years ago, the popular culture used to match up better to the critical culture. I wasn’t around, but I think there was an even better match 60 – 80 years ago. With more choices, what gets chosen by most people is less sophisticated and more disposable. There is no better example than books and novels. The choice there may seem be shrinking, but that’s only because books are part of the expanding choice of what to do with free time. I wonder what a critic thinks when looking at the list of best sellers. Probably it makes you feel needed. Here is something that you might find fitting or at least funny:

    I’m just an everyday guy. You’d probably think I was a Republican to look at me. I might be able to pass for Himself with the right wardrobe. I don’t have all that much confidence in my own ability to deal with a well written book. I look at reviews, after reading a book, to see if I totally got what the book was trying to say. Most of the time, I feel like I got it better than the critic. (I thought Esposito got Malarky better than me.) You said you are “not qualified to assert anything on what propels people to buy books.” I think that is a whole different subject, and you hit right on it, as far as I’m concerned, later in the interview. You said “sometimes a single fragment in those essays can needle me for days.” When I try to pick out what to read, I stay away from the mass of reviews. (I was trying to buy a small radio on Amazon the other day, looked at many of reviews, and felt like I had a lot of important things to hash out. Isn’t that slightly insane?) When it comes to books, I try to find jacket-type blurbs on what a book is about. Maybe I’ll read a review, especially if it’s oddly detailed and unassuming and the reviewer has done me well in the past. Sometimes I’ll skim a review. What I look for is a hint, or what you called a fragment that can needle, and pick out a book from that. I save looking at the longer reviews until I am done reading a book.

  • mrsokana says:

    Thank you Bill for your interesting comments. I appreciated them. I was especially interested in your comment on popular culture matching up with critical culture. And the fact that you read reviews, the longer reviews after the fact of having read a book.

    I hope you found your radio. A small radio is important and as you say there’s much to hash out. It’s also curious how reviewed our decisions are about such things. Historically I wonder whether the same reviewing took place through word of mouth or discussions with the vendor?

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