Markson to Naysayers

From The Last Novel:

“Reviewers who have accused Novelist of inventing some of his anecdotes and/or quotations — without the elemental responsibility to do the checking that would verify every one of them.” (69)

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  1. This is one of the few situation where an author should write a letter to the publication objecting to the review. To quote from Neil Gaiman’s journal:

    I think that unless a reviewer gets their facts completely wrong, the author should shut up (and even then, the author should probably let it go — although I’m a big fan of a letter that James Branch Cabell wrote to the New York Times pointing out that their review of FIGURES OF EARTH was bollocks.

    The letter from Cabell to the Times, after pointing out a dozen places in Maurice Hewlett’s review of Figures of Earth where he had complained of Cabell making up ineptly things which Cabell had actually accurately reproduced from classical sources, ends,

    Still, it is not fair that I should profit by Mr. Hewlett’s lack of such elementary erudition. Plain honesty compels me thus publically and modestly to admit that when Mr. Hewlett accredits me that invention of (and blame for) all these, and other, matters he honors me beyond my due. And while these deficiencies in Mr. Hewlett’s knowledge are interesting, why, after all, should his naive confession of them be printed as a review of a book by someone who does happen to know about these things?

    Yours faithfully, James Branch Cabell

    For most authors, not being James Branch Cabell, it’s probably wisest after reading a particularly stupid or vicious or bad review to mentally compose your letter to the editor, fill it with your sharpest and most cutting and brilliant bon mots, and then, having made it up, to successfully resist the urge to put it to paper, and to return cheerfully to work.

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