The knottiest problem in contemporary etiquette is what to say about your friend’s bad art.
Religion, art, taste, and other delusions.
Some of what you say should not sound like something you would say.
Poetry and music continuously raise expectations in the listener. What is too conventional caters to them exactly; what is too unconventional does not cater to them at all.
The life to be mined from art is not the artist’s but one’s own.
Always consume your friends’ favorite art. It might be good, and if it isn’t, you can absorb yourself endlessly in wondering why they like it.
Children’s literature posits a compact between author and reader: though the reader may look like a frog to all the uncaring world, the author knows he is a handsome prince, and it can be their little secret. Harry Potter is children’s literature. So is Confederacy of Dunces.
Almost anything can be put into a work of art, which is the artist’s problem, and almost anything can be got out of it, which is the critic’s.
To portray competence in detail requires a genius; to portray genius in detail requires a god.
A story of only exciting parts is like a wardrobe of only exciting garments.
Criticism, even good criticism, helps you see what the critic describes and hinders you from seeing anything else.