Expressing a view

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I think the reputation of an artist or a writer has something of the Emperor’s New Clothes about it.  Many people are nervous of making their own value judgment.  They withhold an opinion until someone they respect comes out with a pronouncement.  The price of an object comes into this, too, as Peter experienced during his last exhibition.
A couple fell for one of his watercolours.  They were keen to buy it until they saw the price.  As they confided to a friend, it was far too cheap.  In London, they were used to paying thousands for pictures.  Therefore, the painting they had liked so much could not be any good.  They did not trust their own aesthetic judgment.
Something along these lines but with a reverse effect has just happened to me.  Michael Frayn, whose writing I’ve put at the top of a pinnacle ever since the 60s, has given me some sentences – a pronouncement – I can quote.   Here goes:

“I enjoyed A Home from Home, and admired Susan Barrett’s imaginative verve and technical skill.  The idiosyncratic setting of the care home is very convincing, and sheer multiplicity of the well-characterised staff and inmates is impressive.  So are their complex interrelationships and their often surprising and far-reaching backgrounds.  She brings off one of the best things that a novelist can do – the creation of a world – and writes about it both vividly and elegantly.”  Michael Frayn, October 2016

I’ve blasted my contact list with this stunning recommendation.  Suddenly, excited replies are falling over themselves in my Inbox.  I was intrigued by one from someone who said that now he would think about ordering the book.   He may have said that as a kind of joke, but it’s as though I’ve been seen as a bumbling old biddy whiling away her twilight years until someone of true worth gave his view and I’m suddenly readable.

So, thank you, MF.



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