Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

An Award-Winning Author and An Angry Book Critic

It’s often said that a writer should not respond to egregiously bad reviews and criticism.

Paddy O'Reilly

Award-Winning Author, Paddy O’Reilly

That’s probably good advice—usually because someone who can find nothing good in a book should, out of simple humanity, say as little as possible; and, no one wins in a heated argument.

It may be considered good form to let folks know you’ve struggled with a particular book and why you abandoned it, like I did in my July 10th, 2013 post.

But, if someone were to disagree with my estimation of a book, I certainly wouldn’t argue with them—any book can spawn a vast range of reactions…

However, there’s nothing wrong with a third party speaking up on the author’s behalf to render a bit of justice concerning their talents and wide-spread approval.

First, let’s look at the Award-Winning Author, Paddy O’Reilly.

I’ve written about Paddy twice before:

My Best Friend’s Best Friend . . .

Modern Literature, Genre Bestseller, and Classic Tale

To help justify my complaint about the Angry Book Critic, let me share a few accolades for Paddy’s three novels:

The Factory did a rare thing: it turned an ingenious intellectual premise into a complex, gripping, flesh and blood story. It was full of ideas about history, art, ego and community, but these all emerged seamlessly from the pacy main plot.”
Australian Book Review

The Factory, the first novel by Melbourne’s Paddy O’Reilly, revealed a writer with a facility for delineating the complex and often subterranean behaviours of the hidden self.”
Sydney Morning Herald


” … a line should be drawn under The Fine Colour of Rust as the pinnacle of the genre.”
The Australian

“At key moments, O’Reilly displays a deft poetic touch that elevates the prose from functional to transcendent… This is a story about love: where we look for it, what we do with it and how it shows up in the most unexpected packages. It is warm, moving and funny”
The Big Issue


The Wonders, O’Reilly’s third novel, is a surreal and exotic thing, a finely wrought interrogation of the ways we navigate being human and the presumptuous shambles we make of much of it.”
The Australian

“O‘Reilly has a light touch when it comes to irony, allowing her to explore themes of difference, disability and celebrity in a way that is both playful and profound before changing gear and ramping up the psychological tension… O’Reilly pulls off a unique brand of magical realism with flourish.”
Booktopia Book of the Month


It’s that last book, The Wonders, that recently received some undeserved vicious criticism…

And, just because Paddy’s books have received such great reviews doesn’t mean everyone loves them…

Now let’s get to know the Angry Book Critic, Marieke Josephine Hardy.

Ms. Hardy’s About Page has two things that enlightened me about her reaction to Paddy’s book, The Wonders:

When referring to her own collection of essays (Ms. Hardy that is), she says, “…you can probably read all about that shit on the front page of this website.”

Why is she being so self-dismissive? And, what could that portend about her judgements of others?

She also says: “She makes host Jennifer Byrne’s life an abject misery once a month on the ABC’s First Tuesday Book Club.”

It’s precisely an appearance on that T.V. show when Ms. Hardy becomes venomous about Paddy’s book…

Until November 6th, you can watch a video of that show or download it to watch later.

There are three other people on the show, all of them supportive, to some degree, of Paddy’s book, as is the host…

Yet, Ms. Hardy isn’t content to say she dislikes The Wonders, she’s more than willing to zealously argue with everyone else…

Ms. Hardy’s first egregious comment: “This is a terrible book.”

The audience immediately laughs, which to me says something about why someone like Ms. Hardy is included in a serious book discussion—folks sense she’s a ringer, not to be taken seriously…

Ms. Hardy continues with: “It’s a terrible, badly written book.”

Some of the others try to mitigate such brash appraisals (and, there are many more), to no avail—Ms. Hardy is correct and the rest of you be damned…

And, to “justify” her remarks (using a thinly-veiled insult about Paddy’s character), when mentioning she might run into Paddy on the streets of Melbourne, she says, “She’ll punch me in the face.”

The Wonders is available for Pre-order on Amazon and signed copies are already available in Australia

So, since Paddy wasn’t on that show and, since I doubt she would ever want to say a word to Ms. Hardy (let alone punch her in the face), I thought it would be helpful to share a video of her talking about her own book:

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2 responses to “An Award-Winning Author and An Angry Book Critic

  1. Nicole October 16, 2014 at 8:04 am

    I’ll always believe the lack of anything positive to draw from an experience is due to a lack of imagination on the individual person’s part. But I read for joy, so when I finish a piece, I usually walk away with just that–joy (regardless of how ‘poorly written’ the piece might have been).
    Sidebar, I feel that when you connect with any piece of art, that piece becomes a part of you. So when other people over-analyze or simply criticize the art, I end up feeling like they’ve criticized me. I’m sure there’s a big fancy psychological term for it, but that’s not the point, I guess.
    I think this is why book discussions usually leave me feeling borderline rageful.
    I love books, all sorts of books, written by all sorts of people. I’m the absolute opposite of a book snob. And my impression of book discussions has been that they’re mostly just a bunch of people sitting around scoffing predictably, “poorly written. Terrible. Poorly written. Blah, blah, blah.”
    I did not feel that the panelists? in the video were the stereotypical stuck up robots I’ve had the extreme misfortune of stumbling across personally. In fact, I enjoyed the conversation shared in the video.
    All that being said, I really want to read Paddy’s writing now that I’ve watched the videos and read your post. She seems like a really smart, interesting person. And on a totally unrelated matter, she’s really pretty.
    Also, I greatly respect people who can sit back and listen to opinions that differ greatly from their own (no matter what the conversation topic might be), without taking things too personally.(Tolerance?) You, Alex, are quite admirable in that way. I’d like to learn from you, myself.
    As far as Ms. Hardy and the whole punching in the face ordeal goes, I think she’s possibly overestimating the weight of her own opinions…

    Happy Thursday, my friend.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Alexander M Zoltai October 16, 2014 at 1:05 pm

      Thank you so much, Nicole, for such Penetrating comments.

      I must quote a very quotable part of them—“I’ll always believe the lack of anything positive to draw from an experience is due to a lack of imagination on the individual person’s part.”

      I agree that overanalyzing or simply criticizing a piece of writing is reaching into the sphere of the writer’s domain and not paying attention to the sphere of the writing—we put words together for a reason, to let them create a meaning that goes beyond ourselves…

      Taking the words apart and criticizing the author might be the work of a teacher, certainly not the proper calling of a book critic.

      My dictionary says a critic is “A judge or writer on the qualities of literary or artistic works” not the judge of the writer…

      I realize I’ve used “criticizing” to convey a negative and “critic” to convey a positive—but, then, judging is quite often connotatively negative these days but a judge is one who, hopefully, uses the scales of Justice…


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