LETTER TO A YOUNG CRITIC
How to avoid certain vices and not to turn into Gene Shalit
It was good to meet you at that reading the other month and again outside that bar. You seem like a nice young man. Again I’m sorry to have called you a ‘dumb asshole’ on Twitter that time. It was rude of me. Of course our disagreements about the play stand. Your view of it seemed to me reductive and misplaced. And while I do think there is a time and a place for drug use, I think it’s a bad idea to be high when you’re attending a show you’re going to review and also ludicrous to brag about it. I know that, as you pointed out, Foucault also took acid. Did he take it while he was writing? I doubt it. He’s never been a very important writer to me. Perhaps that’s my problem.
Seems like your substack has been getting some play. I’d congratulate you on it, but I think the audience may be rewarding some of your worst tendencies, temptations all critics are subject to. When you reviewed the reading at the Samovar, I thought you had some insights into a couple of the readers and were appropriately generous to them. Your most recent piece, however, partakes of a few critical vices I think you should avoid:
1) gratuitous self-dramatization;
4) unnecessary and distorting personal contact with your subjects;
Let me explain.