And the cynical little beast in my brain spewed out:
Most novels are flipper babies. Most novelists are too arrogant about their 'parenthood' to acknowledge that they were swilling thalidomide while they were expecting.
"Isn't my baby perfect and wonderful?" becomes a very frightening question when delivered just a decibel or two overly loud, while a horrifyingly misshapen thing is waved in your face, doesn't it?
Is the mother going to bawl if you blurt out in your panic 'no, no, it's hideous!'? Are you going to be hit if you say you don't care for the baby, subjected to public humiliation for your cruelty to the woman with the hideous baby, or perhaps even stoning? Or worse, are you going to be forced to hold it while it wriggles in its spineless way, a wet smacking of lips and gums crossing through it while it stares at your face and wishes that its complement of needle-like teeth had grown in?
I think it's experiences like this that get in the way of honest criticism of novels.
I'm proud of the cynical little beast in my brain's cleverness in how he phrased this, but you know? It's actually kind of scary. Insightful, but scary. How much criticism is just 'your baby is a baby like every other goddamn baby, get it out of my face'? How much is just the equivalent of a polite social noise, like 'cute baby'?