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Far From Flatbush

Intellectual Masturbation Fodder

It was inevitable. After 18 months of positive reviews, including some of the best reviews I’ve ever received for anything I’ve ever written, a critic has come along and trashed Beaver Street.

As a rule, I don’t argue with critics, because there’s no winning. Everybody is entitled to his or her opinion. However, in my opinion, if you’re going to trash a book, then stick to the facts. Do not make up shit that’s demonstrably false, and then base your opinion on these misrepresentations. Because, inevitably, somebody’s going to call you on it. And when your misrepresentations or “lies,” as some might describe them, are brought to light, it’s going to undercut the credibility of the review, the publication it ran in, and you, the critic. This is especially true if you’re writing for a publication that’s generally perceived as “credible.”

The review in question, “Masturbation Fodder,” was posted this weekend on a British site called Review 31, which describes itself as a provider of “intelligent, nuanced reviews of the most interesting new books,” and describes its contributors as “a diverse mix of accomplished intellectuals.”

The intellectual in question, Kate Gould, of Edinburgh, Scotland, is the author of a book on flashers. This is what she said about Beaver Street: “Rosen excluded female pornographers entirely from his history. I suspect he was too caught up in his own juvenile dabbling to notice their existence.”

That’s quite a blurb! But anybody who has read Beaver Street in its entirety (rather than, say, select portions of two or three chapters) is aware that “female pornographers” are one of the book’s main subjects. I pointed this out on the Review 31 site, where another critic, Rich Flannagan, agreed that Gould “could have gotten her facts right” and suggested that she should have read the book thoroughly. But he also said that, in his opinion, the subtitle, A History of Modern Pornography, was “a little misleading.” He thought Beaver Street was more of a memoir.

“That’s why I called it ‘A History’ rather than ‘The History,’” I told Flannagan.

This was Gould’s response to the above comments: “I did read the book thoroughly. A very small number of female pornographers were listed in the index and a few made brief appearances in the book. That doesn’t come close to a representation of the work done by female pornographers even for ‘A’ history.”

To which I said: “Kate, you wrote that ‘Rosen excluded female pornographers entirely.’ Now you’re saying ‘a very small number of female pornographers were listed in the index.’ There are approximately a dozen female pornographers listed in the index, both by real name and pseudonym. In the High Society chapters, I describe in detail both Gloria Leonard’s and ‘Maria Belanari’s’ work. In the Swank chapters I talk about Dian Hanson and describe in detail the work of ‘Pam Katz’ (real name Joyce Snyder), who wrote and produced 4 classic X-rated films, and ‘Georgina Kelly.’ I could go on, but my point is that in your review you misrepresented an important aspect of the book.”

And that is where the first international Beaver Street literary dustup stands as of this morning. May I encourage you to go to Review 31, and weigh in with your opinion. In my opinion, the critic in question is crying out for attention.
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