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Inside the Critics' CircleBook Reviewing in Uncertain Times$
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Phillipa K. Chong

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691167466

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691167466.001.0001

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Aim for the Stars: Punching Up, Never Down

Aim for the Stars: Punching Up, Never Down

Chapter:
(p.83) Chapter 5 Aim for the Stars: Punching Up, Never Down
Source:
Inside the Critics' Circle
Author(s):

Phillipa K. Chong

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691167466.003.0005

This chapter reveals how perceived status differences between evaluator and evaluatee condition the perceived risks associated with writing a negative review. Specifically, it exposes a double standard in the reviewing world, wherein any concerns about being openly negative in reviews disappear when the object of scrutiny is perceived as a famous or otherwise high-status novelist. This reversal of ethics is framed by reviewers as a way for correcting for perceived flaws in the way books are selected for review, especially at a time when there are fewer opportunities for books to be reviewed. By focusing on these issues, the chapter draws attention to how evaluation is driven, not only by the character of books, but also by internal logics or values within the community. This includes a reflexive frustration with the superstar market in which critics operate.

Keywords:   status differences, superstar market, high-status novelists, negative reviews, famous novelists, internal logics

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