"It's always been my theory that criticism is really just veiled autobiography; whenever someone writes about a piece of art, they're really just writing about themselves."The folks over at The Blue Bookcase ask, "Do you agree?"
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! I think that true objectivity is impossible. Sure, sometimes you can objectively identify poor writing, like repeated misspellings and dangling participles, but does that really speak to the quality of the work? Particularly if one considers the context - maybe it's narrated by an uneducated child in an inner-city. Wouldn't that make poor spelling and grammar acceptable and even more believable? I am the first to admit that it's distracting and it may limit my ability to engage, but that's my problem and oh wait I'm getting autobiographical.
Yes, a reviewer could get all in-depth and talk about the use (or misuse) or various literary techniques, any innovation, the complexity of the characterization, but could she divorce that from how she feels about it? And would it be interesting if she did? I think that the Harry Potter series is highly flawed but that doesn't make me love it any less. The ending may be unrealistic and the justification behind Death Eaters ever using anything other than the Unforgivable Curses is nonexistent, but I still love the story because it's compelling and emotional and because I grew up with Harry and oh wait I'm getting autobiographical.
There's a reason that I don't bother searching out book reviews in magazines and newspapers anymore - I want the reviews I read to be autobiographical. I want to know who's telling me what to read and build a relationship with the reviewer, because how else can I trust her? I would never have read the entertaining The Eyre Affair if I hadn't read a dozen other reviews by Alley at What Red Read that helped me understand what she liked and what she was like to know that I could trust her. Likewise, The Balkan Trilogy (which I have yet to read) would not be on my shelf if I didn't know that Ellen at Fat Books and Thin Women was so similar to me both in literary and life choices. The list goes on. I think we're all more likely to trust recommendations, literary or otherwise, that come from somebody we know and respect.
As a reviewer, I like to inject some personality into my reviews not only for this reason, but because I think it gives them more personality and readability. Sure, I could go on and on about the style of discourse and technical "good" qualities, but without a little bit of me in there, would you still be reading?