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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Critique of Impure Tweeting: Alice Hoffman and the Critics

Fortunately, as Alice Hoffman's weekend meltdown suggests, the form is still thriving -- in 140-character nuggets. Smarting from a so-so review of "The Story Sisters" in the Boston Globe, the prolific novelist tweeted her fury to the world. She came out swinging, calling reviewer Roberta Silman "a moron," quickly moving on to "idiot," then expanding her repertoire to dis the newspaper and the city of Boston itself. But the real jaw-dropper in Hoffman's two dozen plus tweets on the subject was her suggestion that "If you want to tell Roberta Silman off, her phone is [Silman's phone number and email address]. Tell her what u think of snarky critics."

As of late Monday morning, Hoffman's Twitter account -- and with it, her petulant tweets -- have disappeared. Did she have a pang of remorse about her actions, or a fear of a lawsuit? She issued a statement through her publisher that read, "I feel this whole situation has been completely blown out of proportion. Of course, I was dismayed by Roberta Silman's review which gave away the plot of the novel, and in the heat of the moment I responded strongly and I wish I hadn't. I'm sorry if I offended anyone. Reviewers are entitled to their opinions and that's the name of the game in publishing. I hope my readers understand that I didn't mean to hurt anyone and I'm truly sorry if I did." (Who better than Diana Joseph, author of the recent memoir "I'm Sorry You Feel That Way," to point out that Hoffman's "I hope my readers understand that I didn't mean to hurt anyone and I'm truly sorry if I did" is a pretty passive-aggressive statement? Why is she apologizing to her readers but not to Silman? "Hoffman is still too perturbed about the review, still kicking and screaming that it 'gave away the plot,'" said Joseph on Monday. "Translation: It's Silman's fault. She made me do it.")

link: Hey, authors, don't tweet in anger! | Salon Books


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