People occasionally ask me if they should reply to some published review of their book which they think is wrong, unfair, unprofessional . . . or downright outrageous. I'm usually a bit ambivalent. The best advice to a friend always has to be "No, don't write an outraged letter of complaint to the editor, setting the record straight". The reason is simple, it will only draw attention to the offending review, which most people in the world will not have noticed anyway (who ever scrutinises a review as carefully as the author of the book concerned?). "If you must write, then make it witty, not hurt. But it's better to claim the highground in other ways, like inviting the reviewer to lunch to talk about it, all nice as pie..."
Yet wearing my more journalistic hat, I must confess that I do rather like to see a good dispute between the reviewed and the reviewer in the letters pages, with the battalions of supporters drawn up on either side. And there is a sense that if someone has said something simply wrong in a review, then they should be called to account.
The more general question that this raises, though, is what makes a "good" review from the point of view of the person being reviewed anyway -- as I've had a cause to reflect over the last few weeks with the reviews of my Confronting the Classics. All the more so, as it is a book that is actually grounded in a series of reviews.
(Fear not, this isn't going to turn into a gripe; overall I'm pretty damn happy.)