I've been feeling bad that posts have been few and
far between for the last couple of weeks but I know most people are
off enjoying their holidays. And while we've done some enjoying,
we've also taken this short break to put together some big plans for the
coming year. Lots of exciting things are coming this year on tastingmenu.com and we're raring to go.
So imagine my surprise when I saw that there were 26
comments on my write-up of
my reactions to the
book Super Chef. I was even more surprised to see that they were
written by one person. One very pissed off person. Nothing like a
to start the year off right.
Basically this person thinks I'm lazy, uninformed,
and unqualified. And while on different occasions I have certainly
been one or more of the above, It wasn't the case when I read or
wrote about Super Chef. I read the book, and I have an opinion that
I'd like to share. Isn't that enough? It's fine for my critic to say that they
don't like my opinion, or that she doesn't think my opinion is
well-founded. But there were a couple of things they said that bugged me:
This person said that I'm "abusing the Internet
and all your readers with reviews like this." Abusing the
internet? The beauty of the internet is that anyone can express
themselves. And some of those expressions will be ones you agree
with, and some won't be. To say that it's abuse to express
yourself, is kind of wacky. This is the same type of attitude
that has kept the right to express oneself locked up for the
privileged few - newspapers, magazines, record companies, etc.
Many of the people who are part of the privileged few are pissed off that the
rest of us get to express ourselves. My critic sounds like one
of them. This person then thinks they've "hoisted me on my own
petard" as it were when they quote from my site where I say I
have no qualifications. That's the point. I don't need any.
Welcome to the internet. I'm not abusing it. I'm showing what's
great about it.
The other thing that bothered me was how the
critic said that I should ask people in the food industry what
they thought of the book as that "would be a real service". I
imagine it might be interesting to know what they thought, but
I'm not "in the industry" and I suspect that most of the people
who read this site are not "in the industry". It's called
opinion. Some people have more experience in the subject matter,
some people have less. Either way, opinions are valid. Believe
me, if I'd gushed about the book, calling it "a seminal work"
like my critic did (this seems a little bit over the top to me
even if you loved the book), they wouldn't
be complaining that I was uninformed or unqualified. I would
imagine that as long as
my unqualified opinions were positive, they would be valid.
And then in the end the writer admits that they are friends
with the author and commands me to re-read the book, re-review the
book, and begin my new review with an apology and a recommendation
that everyone who reads this site read the book, as well as an
apology to the author. Oh yeah, and my critic says that if I don't
repost their entire screed then I'm gutless. I may often be gutless but
that's not the reason I'm not reposting it. The reason for not
reposting is that I'm lazy. Lazy is different than gutless. Cutting and pasting your endless review
of my review and then reformatting it so it's readable is simply too
much work and I have lots of food to write about. I did start down that path
but it got too time consuming. So, since you're all hot on apologies
I figured I would write one myself and hope that this makes you
I'm sorry that you didn't like my review. I'm
sorry that your seemingly endless self-righteousness caused you
to write a response longer than the original review of the book.
I'm sorry that you feel my comment service sucks. And finally, I'm sorry
that I just don't agree with your characterization of what I
wrote. But that's ok. I don't want you to re-read my review,
post a retraction, apologize, or even admit who you are (instead
of posting your anonymous criticism - which btw is really
annoying as it makes it tough when I need to use pronouns). It's
your opinion. I'm sure some people agree with it, and some
people don't. And the beauty of the internet is that even
someone like you
gets to post their opinion.
P.S. I wondered if I was alone in that I wasn't
a fan of the book. And I found Publishers Weekly's comments on
the book. Here are some choice quotes that echo my sentiments:
"This plodding group biography..."
"...begins unevenly by failing to
define in her introduction what a "super chef" is"
"A glossary with definitions of terms like
"Fast Food Restaurant" and "Hoisin Sauce" provides a
"Rossant's style is often awkward ( "It was
the height of disco, and a few months after his divorce
Wolfgang met Barbara Lazaroff at a discotheque")."
"...she glosses over unpleasant events"
"...never appearing to pass negative
I noticed you posted your critique of their
review as well on Amazon.com (though there you didn't admit
you're friends with the author). You asked me if I "work for a
living". Yes I do. It appears that your full-time job is writing
self-righteous critiques of anyone who comments negatively on your
friend's book. If it pays well, I might be interested in myself
as I have friends who write books as well.
And finally, I will admit that when I re-read my
review before I posted it, it sounded a lot more negative than I
felt when I started writing it. And I felt bad. Bad for the author
who probably worked hard only to have me say I didn't like it. But
then again, I realized that once I'd taken the time to write down
what I thought it was really how I felt. So should I lie because I might
hurt someone's feelings? Should I lie and tell people who read this
site that I liked
it? What will they think of me when they read it and have a similar
reaction to mine? And while I know the author's friend is trying to
defend her, I think the author needs better friends. Friends who
aren't so defensive. Friends who understand that the appropriate
response to my critique is, "I'm sorry you didn't like the book,
I've found that a lot of people do, thanks for your time." This
would have been better I think.
Whew! I can't tell if this flame I got was the
capper to a fiery 2004, or the beginning to a fiery 2005. Either
way, Happy New Year. On to better things.