26 FEBRUARY 1972, Page 19

Critical abuse

Front the Rev J. M. C. Yates

Sir: Aided and abetted by the critics, publishers sometimes quote extracts from reviews to show that their latest products are the last words in excellence. As a pleasant corrective, would an independently minded journal produce for us a regular anthology of quotations from reviews of recent books highlighting some of their faults? Here, for a start, are samples from your reviewers in a recent week: Booker "Four (irreconcilable) pants of view scattered together almost indiscriminately within the covers of the same book."

Waugh: "Purest rubbish from beginning to end."

Partner: "His style . . is complex and abstract. . . His schematic view . . . is traditionalist, not to say reactionary. . . . Social and economic history scarcely exist for him."

Harsent reviewed four books of poems:

1) "Language . . self-defeatingly obstructive."

2) "Woefully inadequate language."

3) "A deadening inevitability."

4) "All good warty fun, with a dash of pathos."' Gillian Freeman limited critical comment on her author to fifteen words, from which I choose two: "occasionally repetitious."

John Yates

The Vicarage, Haselbury Pulcknett. Near Crewkerne, Somerset