On negative reviews and why The Scarlet Letter is still relevant

Over at Literary Hub, the Book Marks team interviewed me for their "Secrets of the Book Critics" series about literary criticism, why I couldn't read fiction for a year after Donald Trump was elected, and much more:

BM: What is the greatest misconception about book critics and criticism?

PC: That negative reviews are a bad thing. It’s important for a critic to write and publish negative reviews so that their readers can get a complete sense of what their tastes are. And it’s important to be able to speak freely and frankly about art—that means both positively and negatively. Unthinking boosterism doesn’t help authors improve, it doesn’t help literature stay strong and interesting, and it kills the ongoing conversation that is art.

So to writers and agents and publishers who feel personally injured by negative reviews, I want to say: You’re strong enough to take some constructive criticism. It’s okay. And I suspect that a well-written negative review is more likely to drive readers to a book than a poorly written positive review, anyway.