Rotten Reviews Redux

Pushcart Press

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The revival of a nasty bestseller!

A quarter century ago Pushcart Press took aim at ridiculous reviews that had trashed literary masterpieces through the centuries. Over 175 attacks were quoted in a little book that itself became a best-selling classic. Today much has changed. The rise of digital self-publishing has fired up hundreds of critical blogs. As the cliché has it everybody is a critic – and they’re often anonymous and far from nice.

This collection, with a new introduction, by Pushcart editor Bill Henderson includes gems like:

“The final blow-up of what was once a remarkable, if minor. talent.” (The New Yorker, 1936, on William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!)

“Diffuse…brackish…pretentious.” (Virginia Wolfe, 1922, on James Joyce’s Ulysses)

“Whitman is as unacquainted with art as a hog is with mathematics.” (The London Critic, 1855, on Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass)

“It gasps for want of craft and sensibility.” (New York Times Book Review, 1961, on Joseph Heller’s Catch-22)


Bill Henderson is the founder and editor of the Pushcart Prize. He received the 2006 National Book Critic Circle’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the Poets & Writers / Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award. He is also the author of several memoirs, including All My Dogs: A Life. The founder of the Lead Pencil Club, Henderson lives on Long Island and In Maine where he runs the Pushcart bookstore – “the world’s smallest bookstore.”

Pub Date: 2012
Format: Hardback with bw illus.
Pages: 95 pp.
Size: 5.25 x 7.25 inches

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