“A CALL FOR A NEW ERA OF EXPERIMENTATION, AND A BOOK CULTURE THAT WILL SUPPORT IT.”
Reading this I often replaced the words “book” and “author” with “album” and “musician”. It all still makes sense, it still hits home. “Snark” is a constant presence when reading album reviews these days. I even had an editor recently suggest a form of reviewing that would allow the writers to be more snarky, as if this was something to be revelled in. Bullshit. Be blunt, be mean, be angry, sure. Don’t be snarky. You’re a writer, nothing more, nothing less.
As Julavits puts it in the article, a writer is “a pawn”. If you don’t want to be a pawn, don’t write reviews that acclaim or slam without genuine reason. Don’t facilitate the business, investigate the art. Emotion, feeling and humour all have vital parts to play in criticism, as do honesty, brevity and craft. Snark has no place at all.