Alice Hoffman has a new novel out. Roberta Silman gave Hoffman's book a lukewarm review in the Boston Globe. Alice Hoffman then went insane on Twitter, even publishing Silman's phone number and encouraging her fans to call and attack her.
The most vexing thing about of all of this is that Silman's review wasn't a trashing by any standard, other than inside of Hoffman's obviously delusional mind of course, but it certainly wasn't positive either. Here's a sampling of the most critical statements by Silman we found in her review:
"...this new novel lacks the spark of the earlier work. Its vision, characters, and even the prose seem tired."
"This heavily plotted part of the book becomes more predictable, yet also more unconvincing."
"...the author doesn't deliver."
"There may be lots of readers who crave books that have their feet planted both in reality and fairy tale, complete with mysterious passages like those introducing each chapter of this puzzling, and, in the end, unsettling book."
It should be noted that Silman also said some nice things about Hoffman:
"...one of my favorite books is her "Illumination Night,'' which amply displays her gifts of precise prose and the ability to create sympathetic characters. I especially remember its evocation of the awful condition we call agoraphobia, as it was suffered and mostly conquered by Vonny."
"This section is described with real skill and precision, and my heart lifted as I began to feel some empathy for this eldest child who has caused such pain, and then goes missing."
"...there are some wonderful passages as the book winds to a close."
This was the first of 27 tweets that Hoffman fired off in response to Silman's review, where she immediately took the high road and called Silman a "moron" for having the audacity to criticize her writing.
Then the blissfully ignorant Hoffman displayed a staggering level of intellectual laziness by obviously not even bothering to Google Silman's name, where she would have learned that her reviewer is not only not an "idiot," but someone with a rather long and esteemed literary career.
Hoffman then went one step further and trashed the paper itself.
Hoffman published Silman's phone number and and email address and encouraged her fans to contact her to give her a piece of their minds.
Hoffman trashed Boston, her hometown, which is actually kind of funny.
Hoffman then brought out the smoke and mirrors in a pathetic attempt to disguise her behavior as feminism in action.
Then Susan Orlean, always willing to enter the writerly fray on Twitter, provoked Hoffman to betray Boston in the worst way possible.
For all the criticisms that exist about writing on the internet, this situation is a bright, shining example of one of the best things about writing on the internet—After a while it thickens your skin to the point where you're easily able to easily differentiate between valid criticism and hateful venom-spewing. At some point, the hateful venom-spewing fails to even faze you any longer, while the valid criticisms are accepted and processed rationally and learned from. Too bad Alice Hoffman never had a blog to help her overcome her hypersensitive ego. She'd be a better writer because of it.
In fact, she should come intern for Gawker for one day like James Frey did! We'll let her write a couple of posts and let the commenters have some fun with her. On second thought, scratch that—She'd probably go on a killing spree the first time someone called her out for using an improper pronoun or misspelling a word.
Regardless, we hope that Hoffman comes to her senses after a good night of rest, realizes that she acted like a douchebag and apologizes to Silman. Anything less would be downright shameful.
Update: Hoffman's Twitter account is no more.