Thursday, June 4, 2009
Criticism of a Different Kind
by Patricia Harrington
Chatter swirled in the room, bright and sharp, like the clinking wine glasses. At the reception, readers and novelist wannabees encircled Sinclair Amherst, literary critic. He’d just finished a booksigning and talk about his New York Times best seller, “Foibles and Follies: Life of a Literary Critic.”
Priscilla Owens, owner of the Bookfaire Store on the Sound, had been thrilled when Amherst said he’d do a signing while in the area. The store attracted a large well-to-do tourist crowd. Priscilla had asked her longtime friend, local author Debra Langdon, to assist her with the reception and food. “After all, Amherst did mention your novel in his book.”
Debra’s heart sank at her friend’s request. Yes, Amherst had quoted a passage from her debut novel; but in his chapter on Pedestrian Plotting.
After Amherst’s book came out, Debra’s agent called her. “That killed your chance for a follow-up novel.”
Debra repeated the comment to Priscilla who shrugged it off. “Nonsense. There’s no such thing as bad publicity. You’ll see. It’ll work to your favor.”
As the evening progressed, Debra refilled platters from the seafood and snacks in the kitchen. She prepared a plate for Amherst and handed it to him.
Then she circulated about, covertly observing Amherst who wiped his mouth carefully with a napkin after eating the butterclams.
The clams would taste delicious; too bad they came from a beach with a warning sign—one Debra had chosen to ignore.
Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning. Do Not Harvest.