The Accomplished Critic

personal stories, random thoughts

In college I wrote book reviews for the university magazine.

It was a lot of fun. It was college. Your opinion vastly outweighed anyone else’s. Especially if it wasn’t hypothesized and percolated within the university bubble. We’d rap on subjects with an assurance that comes from knowing half-formed theories would stand unchallenged by the real world.

When I reviewed books, most of the time I did it with respect. But I clearly remember ripping into a few with spite and mean-spiritedness. There was one novel in particular… It was part of THE CAT WHO… series, by Lillian Jackson Braun.

I spent extra time crafting that review. I wanted people who read it to think I was funny and clever, and could turn a phrase. It’s embarrassing to think about now.

Yesterday, I read a review of Dennis Lehane’s film, THE DROP. The review closes with:

“It’s definitely my least favorite Dennis Lehane adaptation to date, and I believe he should stick to writing books.”

THE DROP isn’t my work. Yet I’m compelled to remind the writer that they’re not fit to tie Dennis’s literary boots. Never mind advise him on the direction of his career.

I’m compelled to elaborate on this. So people think I’m funny and clever, and can turn a phrase.

Instead, I’m learning we are all Philistines.

Mostly, I’m reminded of what Conor McGregor said:

“There is no such thing as an accomplished critic. Everybody’s a critic, everyone’s got an opinion on it… so I don’t pay attention to what people say. Good or bad. It means nothing to me. I carry on. Nothing else matters except for getting better, showing up to the gym and improving.”

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