Who is Alice Hoffman?

Seriously, I have no clue who she is, and yet, she’s throwing a royal hissy about a negative review by the Boston Globe.  She has been twittering about it and the things she is saying…wow.  She even went so far and gave out the reviewers contact information so people can “Tell her what u think of snarky critics.”  Is it me or was that totally out of line?  There was another tweet she did that totally caught my attention…

Interesting, reviewers can say what they want. But when writers speak up they’re “going after” reviewers.

I’m sorry, but isn’t that the point of a reviewer?  To say what they thought about something, whether it be good or bad?  Of course we can say what we want, it’s our opinion.  It doesn’t matter if you agree with it or not, because in the end, it’s our opinion we’re writing about.  It has nothing to do with the individual, but the work in question.  I know a lot of authors who don’t read reviews exactly for this reason (or I assume). They don’t want to get hung up on someone’s opinion because it doesn’t speak for everyone.  Not everyone is going to like everything someone puts out, so why go off on one person who doesn’t think your novel is the bomb?

Oh beautiful.  I just saw this exchange between Ron Charles and Alice Hoffman:

roncharles: @AliceHof Posting reviewer’s phone & e-mail address and encouraging hate mail is just plain immature. Write a sharp, witty response instead.

AliceHof: @roncharles Her information was public. Sorry my wit isn’t as sharp as your Ron.

AliceHof: An email to a reviewer is hate mail? But a a hateful review is a love letter?

Just because her information is public, that doesn’t mean it gives you the right to encourage people to use it to harass someone.  A negative review doesn’t make it hateful and just because you don’t like what she said, it shouldn’t matter.  It’s one person’s opinion, not the entire worlds.  So you don’t agree with her review, deal with it.  It’s not your opinion that is being written about, it’s the reviewers opinion and encouraging people to tell her it’s wrong is not only childish but shows an intense case of insecurity.

Now the real question, am I wrong, overreacting?  Can reviewers not say what they think in a review or do they need to walk a fine line between the authors feelings and what they really think?

Updated: Between the time I wrote this post this morning and earlier this afternoon, Alice Hoffman’s twitter account had been deleted.  Now the question is if she’ll claim she was hacked and none of the comments were hers or she realized she completely screwed up and might apologize.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

Another Update: Now that Ian is in bed, I finally have the chance to post this and guess what.  Alice Hoffman has already owned up to the major faux pas she committed over the weekend and apologized via the New York Times.  I have to give her kudos for that, but I sincerely hope that she learned something from this little escapade of hers.  We’re in the 21st century and the gap between writers and readers is quickly becoming nonexistent through the internet.  One simple action via Twitter, Facebook, mySpace or any kind of blog won’t take a few days to find, but will be found instanteously and then will spread through the interweb quickly.  It won’t be one or two people who see the mess, but one or two thousands (millions) who are surfing the net.  What could be buried in the past is no longer an option.

So you’re probably tired of hiring this already, so I’m going to end this now.  Plus, I feel like I’m just rambling now.  But I am curious, who all saw this earlier?  What were your thoughts?

About Jackie 3282 Articles
I am a 30-something SAHM with two adorable boys and a supportive husband who is very tolerant of my reading addiction. I love to read and easily go through about a dozen books a month – well I did before I had kids. Now, not so much. After my first son was born, I began to take my hobby of reviewing a little more serious and started Literary Escapism to help with my sanity. I love to discuss the fabulous novels I’ve read and meeting all the wonderful people in the book blogging community has been amazing.


  1. Hoffman writes more literary books. Think Jodi Picult or Anita Shreve. But what she did today goes under the bad author behavior files. A Very immature high school type of reaction.

  2. She wrote Practical Magic. Have to say I liked the movie more than the book! Obviously she hasn’t read Lauren Dane’s excellent posts about authors online, which suggest not reading and definitely not responding to reviews.

    I’ve had an author or two comment on a lukewarm review on my blog. Those comments are always defensive and definitely cause me to think less of the author.

    If only Ms. Hoffman had posted a thoughtful rebuttal instead of going all high school on Twitter…

  3. In this day and age it might even be a marketing ploy. Remember the adage any news is good news when you want to draw attention to yourself – even negative news. She’ll probably sell more books because of it.

  4. Hmm…she was so wrong, but I feel for her. I’ve seen negative reviews of books online and even had bad reviews on short things I’ve written online- and the urge to respond is so strong. But her argument was ridiculous- & disturbingly popular these days- why do people think “free speech” means speaking/writing/publishing without criticism or disagreement from others?

  5. I think that if the review focuses on the work: “the descriptions were tedious and the characters flat and boring” there’s no question about it being “OK,” whatever that means.

    I do think there are bloggers/critics/reviewers out there who can get mean and personal for the sake of a snarky laugh, and I’m NOT talking about anyone in particular. But if you say something like “This author is an idiot to think that readers would like this work, what is she, some kind of ??” that becomes below the belt.

    I like snark as much as anyone but I really hate hurting anyone’s feelings on purpose.

  6. I completely agree with you (and I’ve never heard of her either). I think it’ll be a scary world if reviewers have to worry about what they think and where they publish what they think. Soon, all reviewers would be saying what authors want to hear. Ridiculous. You don’t have to be mean, but you should be honest when reviewing a book. If you didn’t like the book – say it. It’s your job, whether you get paid or not. Just my two cents

  7. Chris – I have to say I’ve been lucky. I really haven’t had a problem with any author being up set with my reviews. At least none that I know of.

    Doug – I know what you’re saying, but would you honestly buy a book from an author who pulled something like this? Hoffman’s stunt really didn’t make me want to go out and buy one of her novels. At most, it gave me a reason NOT to read anything by her.

    Sharazad – I’m not saying she couldn’t be upset by it, just that she shouldn’t have made her reaction so public. She may have reacted badly, but why she thought it wouldn’t get noticed on the internet is beyond me.

    Miss Remmes – Honestly, I’m not really sure what Hoffman objected to. Silman really wasn’t mean with her review, just honest. It didn’t sound like she came off attacking Hoffman, just that she wasn’t crazy for this novel and her earlier work was better.

  8. I saw the whole thing happen and I felt SO embarrassed for her, she really did behaved like a totally nut and you know what? what’s said is said, she can apologize all she wants, she was still a huge bitch to the reviewer.

    I completely agree with you – I’m a reviewer, I write MY OPINION on the books that I’m sent, and what also boggles my mind is that since she’s a writer, you would think that by now she would know this right? Even if she wasn’t! It’s kinda of obvious: a reviewer’s opinion is not the entire world’s, it’s the individual, and she can throw a hissy fit all she wants about it. I’m a fairly new reviewer, and seeing these things puzzle and kind of scare me. Last thing I need nor want is some author going nuts on me because I didn’t like his/her book, I’m still not going to stop being honest it, though.

    I’m not interested in reading her books. Honestly, I didn’t even know her name before this happened. And I’m happy with that.

  9. My thoughts were; fine you can throw a hissy fit, it’s a free country, but the posting of the email and phone number were crossing the line. Inviting a mob to go after someone? A *leeetle* overboard.

  10. She did apologize, but she didn’t apologize to the reviewer who e-mail and telephone number she spammed on twitter and told people to harass! To me that crosses the line. She should ban herself from social media henceforth.

  11. Well, I sure jumped in on the tail end of this one. I am glad that she apologized. I think that posting anyone’s email or phone number is ridiculous! Sounds like she was just feeling a bit thin skinned.

  12. Interesting topic Jackie! Unfortunately, she isn’t the first author to overreact to a bad review but giving out ther personal information is a bit over the top. Any author that reacts that badly loses a bit of my respect…but that is just my opinion.

  13. What an unusual thing for an author as big as Alice Hoffman to do. Glad to hear she apologised. We are all intitled to our opinions.

  14. I’m not aware of this author, but I’m thinking I saw that name on a book, but never read (maybe woman’s fiction or inspirational?). Exactly, a review is really the one person’s review of the book. It won’t fit to everyone. There may be a book I love and the opposite for another. So for me, mostly with reviews I love to get the info about the books. Then too there are readers/reviewers who enjoy alot of the same I do so I like to see what they are reading and liked so I can check out too.

    And I slept through this all, LOL

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