Adam Langer offers a guide to The Seven Deadly Reviews, ranging from the Philip-Roth-is-Nathan-Zuckerman-Fundamental-Error to the Boneheaded Comparison.
“Once, when I was interviewing the Australian singer-songwriter Paul Kelly, I informed him that his publicist had praised him as “a literate John Cougar Mellencamp.” Kelly snorted. “Great,” he said (or “grite” as he pronounced it). “I guess that means I know how to read.” In other words, reviewers can end up handing out compliments—or insults—when they intend to do just the opposite. Michael Ondaatje’s favorite review was one for his novel Coming Through Slaughter, which was labeled “the worst book on jazz since Charles Mingus’s Beneath the Underdog.” Turns out that Ondaatje loved Mingus’s book (I do too, by the way).”