After the Greek Seaman debacle, most writers are (and should be) wary of responding to, or criticising, reviews of their work. I have, however, noticed one type of review that unerringly gets on my wick is the ‘This should have been something else’ knockdown.

‘This prose poem should have been a short story’

‘This literary novel should have been a genre book’

‘This novella should have been a family saga’

Just because the reviewer would have preferred a different type of work does not, I feel justify a negative review. Saying “This is a genre book padded with pretentious description to allow it to claim it is literary” is a valid criticism. “I wanted this book to be twice as long because I wanted to know more about the characters” isn’t. It is an opinion, certainly, and it is how the reviewer felt. But criticising a book for being not what you wanted is like going to a shoe shop and complaining that they won’t sell you fish and chips.



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