Frank McLynn

Write To Reply

EARLY IN MY career I used to reply with outrage to the many monstrous injustices any worthwhile writer receives at the hands of the critics. The litany is familiar: charges of professional incompetence, poor craftsmanship, plagiarism, etc. A favourite ploy is to pick up on a subtle distinction the author has carefully made between X and Y and then announce that the author has failed to distinguish X from Y. This is rather like that well-known technique of management consultants. Interview the senior personnel in a firm about what they think their management shortcomings are, and then send in a report, complete with an invoice for tens of thousands of pounds, which simply repeats the misgivings expressed by the interviewees as if they were the original insights of the consultants. It is, of course, one of the peculiarities of being a writer that one makes enemies of people one has never clapped eyes on and often never will. Sometimes the hostile critic writes in terms of such unbalanced stridency that one imagines an amnesic interlude. Did I seduce his wife or his daughter in a moment of madness? I must have done, for surely only such egregious wickedness would justify such an effusion of critical bile? Alas, there is something about authorship that elicits the worst forms of human behaviour and emotion in others.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'To be clever without wanting to glory in it, put dimmer people down or make an act of covering it up (viz Boris Jo… ,
    • 'Her favourite design included a body in the shape of a horse, with a steam engine inside ... The passenger would t… ,
    • Sign up to our email newsletter below! Get free articles, highlights from the archive, and chances to win theatre… ,
    • RT : Founded in 1979, is a trusted independent source for reviews of new books across a variety of genres. A… ,
    • RT : Here we are - "Shelf Indulgence" by Ed Potten, a wonderful read, well worth your time: @Lit_Review,
    • 'Like going to a party hoping to get away as quickly as politeness allowed and at 4am finding myself still engrosse… ,
    • 'Neville never shed his sense of being the junior, and perhaps least-deserving Chamberlain.' From the archive, Mic… ,