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>When writers attack!

>I wonder what you call the Twitter equivalent to drunk dialing?

And if you’re going to whine about how you used to be reviewed (and how that must hurt) by Anne Tyler, it might be politic to spell her name right.

[Update 11:45 AM. It looks like Alice Hoffman wisely thought to retreat from the field and suspended or cancelled her account. But for those who missed it, Hoffman had taken issue, via several Twitter messages, with a review by Roberta Silman of her latest book in the Boston Globe. Along with publishing the reviewer’s phone number and encouraging readers to call and give her hell, Hoffman complained, “Now any idiot can be a critic. Writers used to review writers. My second novel was reviewed by Ann Tyler. So who is Roberta Silman?”]

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. >Seems to have already disappeared.

  2. Anonymous says:

    >What's rude is my PW Daily email stating that Michael Jackson books are languishing and the booksellers cannot make a dime off of his death.

  3. Anonymous says:

    >Well, now we know who Roberta Silman is:

    I like that she's married to a guy named Robert. That's love! And she's written a children's book, so she's one of our own.

    I'll be looking forward to Hoffman's mea culpa, but I'll be disappointed if she doesn't blame her tweet on booze or the Internet itself.

  4. Roger Sutton says:

    >In the Times she does one of those "I'm sorry if anyone was offended" tap-dances.

  5. Emily Harris says:
  6. Anonymous says:

    >I often tell students not to put anything on a blog they would be ashamed for their mother to read …

  7. david elzey says:

    >So who is Alice Hoffman?

  8. melanie hope greenberg says:

    >I am not adding to the pile-ons all over cyberspace which I find equally offensive as the actions of Alice Hoffman.

    I want to say that I find this topic timely to our discussions here. The real kicker would be that her book does well since it got so much off the chart publicity. People might get curious who would not have before and the public does enjoy bad news 🙂

    I view this a major lesson of cyber and professional etiquette. This also includes the pile-ons. I'm sure she is humiliated and if the comment section rumors are true about her divahood, hopefully this is THE wake up call.

  9. Beth Kephart says:

    >I will be thinking about this (and feeling sad about it) for the rest of this night.

  10. Julie Larios says:

    >I especially love it when Silman, being interviewed about Hoffman's twittering, said "…she called me a moron, which my children are going to love." Nothing like being dissed on Twitter to destroy your parental authority.

  11. >I'm saying straight up that I am a Hoffman fan and want to repeat my comment over on Edward Champion's place…

    The point of Hoffman's poorly tweeted message was that Silman divulged too much information in the review (like a book report). I have recently purchased the book and now know that one of the main characters dies and this motivates the plot.

    First, there's no place in a review for exposing specific plot UNLESS the reviewer spells out SPOILER AHEAD. Secondly, there is a difference between amateur reviewers (like myself) and professional reviews. Silman's review, whether glowing or critical, was unprofessional.

    I think Hoffman made it immaturely personal and the real point was lost. I still like her books and I'll still read it, but I will be more cautious if I ever spot a Silman review again.

  12. Anonymous says:


    I think a lot of people will agree about spoilers, but Hoffman published Silman's phone number online and urged her Twitter followers to call her. That's not just unprofessional; that's harassment.

  13. Anonymous says:

    >Just read an interview with Silman in the LA Times. She said she's only gotten nine email messages as a result — all apologizing for Hoffman's behavior. She hasn't gotten any phone calls because Hoffman got her phone number wrong.

  14. KATE COOMBS says:

    >Can't help but picture the person who might own that phone number; depict the colorful character of your choice in your head and then picture them saying to callers, "Alice who? Who gave you this number?" Or something far less repeatable…

  15. Roger Sutton says:

    >Tasses, I'm not buying that argument and I don't think for a second that Hoffman would have advanced it had the review been more laudatory. One person's spoiler is another person's information.

  16. Anonymous says:

    >I don't understand people who complain about "spoilers" in professional reviews. It's part of this whole world-must-revolve-around-my-personal-comfort mindset. I would find the words SPOILER ALERT!!!!! in a the midst of a professional review to be incredibly amateurish.

    If you are so sensitive that knowing what happens in a book or movie would destroy your enjoyment of it, then don't read the reviews until after you read the book or seen the movie. Don't expect people you don't know to take care of you.

  17. Anonymous says:

    >sorry, that should be "after you HAVE read the book…"

  18. Lyle Blake says:

    >As I opined in an earlier thread, the bottom line in the use of spoiler warnings is a display of respect: respect for the material being discussed, respect for the author whose hard work is being frivolously abused by the premature disclosure of carefully planned key elements, and respect for your fellow readers. I am sorry if Anonymous 1:00 finds such respect to be too tiresome to be bothered with. I would be willing to wager that Anon. 1:00 is not a reader of murder mysteries.

    Lyle Blake Smythers

  19. >Roger, I won't speculate whether Hoffman would have gone as nuts had the review been more positive. I'm simply saying that spoilers have no place in a professional review. It's only information if you are reading a critical analysis. If you are reading a review of a story in order to decide if you want to buy/read said story, spoilers serve only to SPOIL the fun.

    I'm certainly not defending Hoffman's ridiculous actions (as I said on my own humble blog). I'm saying that reviewers, especially paid professionals, should be held to a higher standard and Silman's review (which I read BEFORE the novel and which totally spoiled the story for me) wasn't up to my idea of what a professional reviewer should do.

    Thanks for the discussion opportunity 🙂

  20. janeyolen says:

    >Upfront: I love Hoffman's work. Big fan here. I have never met her in person and if I do, I will be careful not to divulge my phone number. Just in case.

    Another upfront: All authors would love to write such twitters or tweets or other rebuttals to critics of all persuasions. We don't. And we don't because it makes us look like divas, el stupidos, and can only backfire. As it did

    Note: many authors will tell you they don't read reviews, good or bad. Don't believe them. We are professional liars, after all.


  21. Roger Sutton says:

    >Since I haven't read the book being reviewed (I loved Hoffman's Illumination Night but that's all I've read of her adult books, and I don't think her YAs are very good) I don't know if what the reviewer gave away was a "spoiler." I suspect people have different definitions of that word–for some, it's the revelation of a carefully prepared surprise (there's a good one in Lisa See's new Shanghai Girls,) but for others it can be anything and everything. And what should a mystery reviewer do if the revelation of the villain is lame and unprepared for? Should the review say just say (and only that), thus not providing any evidence for her point, or is the reviewer obliged to explain her reasoning, which might entail giving up some details of the msytery? I'm in the camp that says skip the reviews if you've already decided to read something.

  22. Anonymous says:

    >I really don't like the blurring of public and private that seems inevitable with these devices. I recently read a book by a very popular author who outsells me by about a billion to one. I told a friend that I thought the book was awful–everything about it, plot, characterization, writing. It was the very stuff the word "pedestrian" was invented for. Some authors might say they would never criticize another's work that way, and Jane Yolen probably knows they are liars. But we make our childish, petulant, jealous comments Privately. Twitter seems like a terrible conduit to carry all our private thoughts out to the public. I wonder if Hoffman thought she was addressing friends and was as horrified at the way it traveled as I would be if my own friend sat at a table at ALA and retailed my opinion of er, um's, work.

  23. Carol Henson Keesee says:

    >I'm happy to get a review – good or bad. At least someone took the time to read my work. Appreciate it!

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