Emma Straub's Home for Pictures of Cats and Other Objects Worthy of Our Attention
  • In Celebration of Enthusiasm

    The writer Jacob Silverman wrote a piece for Slate today called ‘Against Enthusiasm.’ The essay mentions me by name in the very first sentence, and uses me throughout as a symbol of the ‘epidemic of niceness’ in the online universe. What is particularly hilarious to me is that I read Silverman’s piece directly after asking all of my Twitter followers to ‘Like’ my official Facebook page. 

    I found the article both interesting and funny (I do love to be made an example of!), but I want to make sure that people know a few things, just in case.

    1. Reviewers always have the right to say whatever they feel to be true. I have never once argued with a bad review. I expect them, and will receive them, over the course of my career. I also happen to have a very thick skin. (Try getting three novels universally rejected before you publish a single short story—it does wonders. Truly. I think this should be required in MFA programs: racking up as many rejections as it takes to no longer care.)

             A. I am not a critic. I am a fiction writer, and a bookseller. It is not my job to point out the flaws in other writers’ work. It is my job to help draw attention to writers whose work I adore. I read lots of books that I don’t gush over on the internet. When I tell you, dear internet, that I love a book and think that you should buy it, it’s because that’s how I feel. I don’t envy critics their job, as I am deathly afraid of confrontation of any kind. What if someone spit on me at a party, and ruined a perfectly nice flower crown?! I am an enthusiast by nature, and find that Twitter/Tumblr/Facebook are excellent in helping my already loud voice be even louder. (For example, have you read Raymond Kennedy’s Ride a Cockhorse yet? I don’t even know him, he’s dead!)

             B. I have had the enormous pleasure of receiving some very nice advance reviews for Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures. They were all written by strangers. I am all for giving and receiving favors, but not in any way that crosses ethical lines. So yes, I presume that the good reviews I have received were honest, and not in some way curried by the photos I put on the internet of my delicious brownies, or whatever. 

    2. I do try to be delightful, in part because I find complaining in public terribly gauche. The internet is my daily water cooler conversation, my would-be office banter. I wouldn’t use those places to talk shit about people, so I see no reason to use the internet to do so. Call me a Pollyanna if you like, but I have standards. The internet is big enough for all of us—the rabble rousers, the misanthropes, the goof-offs, and yes, the enthusiasts. 

    And now, kisses to you all! Now go like my Facebook page! And follow me on Twitter

    Yours, as ever,

    1. kurt-penberg reblogged this from emmastraub
    2. jenniferhoward reblogged this from emmastraub and added:
      Worth reading as a counterweight to Silverman’s essay (which I liked).
    3. leopoldgursky reblogged this from emmastraub and added:
      I love love love Emma Straub.
    4. elliottholt said: Classy response, Emma!
    5. monology reblogged this from emmastraub