A Moment of Jen
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Tuesday, September 02, 2003
posted by Jen at 9/02/2003 07:29:00 PM

Today's motherhood-inspired countery & western song title, "How Can They Call it a Diaper Bag (When There Ain't No Diapers Inside?)"

Lucy and I went on a walk with our friends Debbie and Baby Max, and then we went out for coffee, and midway through iced decaf it became evident that Lucy needed a change. All cool confidence, I reached into the diaper bag and found....nothing.

Oh, there was diaper cream. And there were plastic bags in which to place the dirty diapers. There was also, thank goodness, our emergency spare onesie. But diapers? Wipes? Not so much. I'd used them all up and somehow neglected to replace them. We had to borrow a diaper from Baby Max, who's eight days younger but a whole lot bigger than Lucy, so the diaper was all loose and baggy. I told her it was her gangsta look. She didn't seem impressed.

Meanwhile, here's Chuck Palahniuk getting pissy with reviewer Laura Miller ("Until you can create something that captivates people, I'd invite you to just shut up.")

I'm not a Palahniuk fan....but as a fellow author, I did a full-body cringe from just the first paragraph of Miller's review ("Imagine some crappy novels. Imagine that they're all written in the same phony, repetitive, bombastic style as this paragraph, all hopped-up imperatives and posturing one-liners").

I feel Chuck's pain....but I don't think anything good ever comes from complaining about a bad review.

As tempting as it is to point our (correctly) that your critic hasn't authored anything except criticism, or to suggest (probably correctly) that people who write for newspapers and magazines often have dreams of writing their own book and are, to varying degrees, bitterly jealous of those who have -- especially if they're former newspaper or magazine writers -- you can't help but wind up looking whiny and pathetic if you let a bad review get you riled.

Not that it's ever easy. Not that I haven't occasionally taken a critic to task on this weblog. Not that I don't go tearing my hair out when I read reviews that distort the books I've written, trash them as a way of dumping on chick-lit in general, or just plain get things wrong. But I try really hard not to let it ruin my day (or my week, or my month) or fire off a prickly letter in response.

Bad reviews come with the territory. They're part of the price you pay for being published in the first place. And sheesh, if the guy who wrote The Fight Club can't both dish it out and take it, what hope is there for the rest of us?

Anyhow. Tomorrow we're heading to the Big Apple (Lucy is already demanding couture to wear to the reading. Too much Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, I think). Hope to see lots of you at the Astor Place B&N on Thursday night!
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