In this post about a writer's response to a negative review, Ron Hogan suggests that all writers should probably resist the urge to answer their critics, although at the same time he quotes one writer's comment that “Criticism that we don’t like is part of what we signed up for when we published." However, the example Hogan cites is probably a better illustration of the limits of snark than a case that should warn writers off of trying to engage their critics in a productive dialogue about either the merits of a book that might be in question or about the nature of literary criticism.
In fact, literature could very well benefit from more such dialogue if conducted civilly and seriously. I can't see that maintaining a firm line between writer and critic, assigning them each their own separate, non-overlapping domains, inherently serves some necessary purpose. When book reviewing/literary criticism was conducted entirely in print, such interaction, if it happened at all, could occur only long after the fact, and subsequently debate and dialogue lost any sense of immediacy. Online book reviewing, of course, can eliminate this time lapse and enforced distance, and if a writer has a legitimate point to make in response to a review, the critic ought to be willing to reply in defense of his/judgment or expand on his/her analysis.
Thus, I would hereby invite any writer who takes exception to or doesn't understand the basis of a critique I have made in a review, either here or in one appearing elsewhere, to ask for the space to respond. I would post such a response as a separate entry, to which I would reply in turn, rather than as a comment in the comment section, as a way of equalizing the dynamics of a debate and avoiding a long and potentially fragmented comment thread. It seems to me possible that this sort of exchange could in fact cast light rather than heat on a literary disagreement, and make both writing and criticism part of a common endeavor to more fully appreciate literary creation as well as the act of critical appraisal.