ChildRE: Review of America's Child
I have just finished reading the review of my book America's Child and while I almost never reply to reviews I felt it necessary to set the record straight. Any reviewer has the right to review any book they please, in any way they please, although one would hope a review wouldn't be as mean-spirited as this one, but I have to say I was infuriated and deeply offended disappointed by her personal attacks.
I have continued to devote my life to struggling both politically and artistically for the same beliefs that are evidenced in my memoir. I am hardly "feeding at any trough" golden or otherwise, or ever have, on two small grants --- one by the Puffin Foundation, ($2500) 1992 and hardly a governmental entity --- and NYSCA ($5000) that I received for what was then a manuscript in 1997. I have supported myself and IKON (which ceased publication of its second series in 1994) for the last 26 years --- when I finally got a teaching job again --- through working year round (including summers) for subsistent wages as an adjunct instructor.
Just to mention one other thing --- I talk about Grace Paley and Denise Levertov in the memoir because they were people who were important to my life, as the reviewer knows if she read the book. If I were merely name-dropping believe me I could have dropped a lot more names. If one is going to make comments like bad poetry, writing, self-indulgent etc. then certainly more than a list of page numbers is in order in a serious review. But again, that is her right, and says more about the reviewer than the book. What is not anyone's right is to make personal assumptions about an author without checking out the facts. A serious review is not based on personal attacks. And why RALPH would choose that last paragraph to put on the table of contents to summarize the book is really beyond me.
I haven't read your magazine before but I can only hope that other authors that you review are treated more respectfully.
Sincerely,--- Susan Sherman
ShermanSu@aol.comRE: Review of America's Child
I just read Wendy Barnett's review of America's Child by Susan Sherman, in your online edition. I and many other readers (as well as quite a few reviewers) feel this is an important and beautifully written memoir. Needless to say, your reviewer is entitled to her contrary opinion. What seems mean-spirited and utterly uncalled for however, and motivates this letter, is the end of the review which you choose to highlight by singling it out for your table of contents. For Barnett to mention a few small writing and editing grants as some sort of proof that Sherman "is now feeding, and apparently feeding well, at the golden trough she has been kicking so viciously for so long" shows a strange vindictiveness as well as an utter disconnection from reality. I happen to know that Susan Sherman lives in a rent-controlled walkup on New York's Lower East Side. No golden trough in sight. As I say, reviewers are entitled to their opinions, but when these stray from the purely literary and clearly evidence this level of personal attack, it would seem to me that the magazine itself would want to safeguard its reputation for serious criticism.--- Margaret Randall
Albuquerque, New Mexico