Ages ago I heard a story about a Ph.D. candidate who began his dissertation with the salutation, “Hello.” As someone who struggles to come up with good introductions, I’ve always envied the elegant simplicity of the doctoral hello. It breaks the ice, sets the tone, and allows the writer to get on with the business at hand. And while I don’t feel like I have the chops to pull it off as the very first word of this post, I’m content to use it in my second paragraph.
Hello. My name is Adam Shaftoe, and if you’re reading this, you may be one of the people who helped get The Page of Reviews (and me by association) nominated for an Aurora Award in the category of Best Fan Publication. Thank you. I don’t think I could have asked for a better way to cap off the Page of Reviews. Though snark and irreverence are more my usual speed, I’m being completely genuine when I say this means quite a lot to me. And oddly enough, I don’t think I could have put the meaning to words were it not for an essay Laura Miller posted to Slate, a few days ago.
“Every critic knows that the person most eager to read your take is the person who’s already seen the film, watched the TV series, read the book. They come to you not for consumer advice, but for company and…conversation. They want to compare notes. They hope you can explain why they found the work so profound or so stylish or so ridiculous. Sure, sometimes we critics try to drum up enthusiasm for an overlooked jewel, but it’s much harder to interest readers when they haven’t already invested time in the work.”
Company and conversation, that’s why I do what I do. At one point, years ago, criticism and reviews were more about me hiding from my own work in the efforts of other people. Over the six years I wrote The Page of Reviews, it evolved into something else. And for the life of me I could never quite land on a definition that was both pithy and honest. Who knew the ongoing flap over Batman versus Superman would lead to such a revelation? Settle down, Zack Snyder, you still don’t get a pass on BvS.
So at the risk of being overly self-indulgent, I take this nomination to mean that the conversation I’m offering is, at the very least, not a terrible one…maybe it’s even a good one on my better days. Whatever the case, I hope that my work continues to be worthy of the accolade you, gentle readers, have offered me this year.
For anybody who wants to review my work, I’ve put together a PDF of selected essays, reviews, and one rant from the Page of Reviews in 2015. It will also be available to Aurora voters through the CSFFA.
I hope all Canadians interested in supporting Canadian talent register with the CSFFA and cast an Aurora ballot. There is a lot of amazing talent on the slate this year – most of it head an shoulders above my work. Go forth, read, register, and vote.