How not to respond to a bad review




I dunno man, internet mockery was the making of Fifty Shades, wasn’t it? The buzz created by his being such an ass, and subsequently hitting Gawker might sell him some books.


With ebooks, the barrier to entry becomes trivial, and there is going to be a lot of garbage. Sure, there will be reviews and ratings systems, but they will still rely on the type of person that would voluntarily read some of this garbage. Don’t mean to sound rude, but I have always enjoyed having a professional, literate editor with a career at stake, and a few thousand dollars on the line between me and the printed word.

P. S. I don’t intend to refer to Mr. Harper’s work as garbage, I don’t know anything about it. (In fact he seems like an intelligent man and I wish him the best). I meant to refer to self-publishing platforms in general that allow anyone to slap together something and sell it for a few bucks.


If writing a banal mystery book set in Venice with sentient teddy bears as characters wasn’t a clear sign of mental illness, that response sure as heck was. He sounds very much like a would-be-genius, mentally ill writer I know. I can’t laugh so much as just feel sorry for everyone involved.


I’m so saddened that this is Stephan rather than Stephen. The Prime Minister’s middle initial is even J.


A little more unsolicited cane-shaking:

I think the reason ebook self-publishing, Facebook, twitter, blogs. etc are so infuriating to me is because they devalue (if not destroy) reputable work. I think most modern Americans have been raised with this mindset that you can be anything, regardless of talent, if you just persevere and work hard at it. So anyone can be an author, anyone can be a blogger, anyone can be a journalist, anyone can be a photographer, etc… Which I think is great, if it stopped there. But as entrepreneurs find ways to capitalize on this vanity, this sort of unpaid hack-creative work becomes the de facto dominant form.

Sorry for the semi off-topic post-first-stout-cup-of-coffee get-off-my-lawn rant. Seems a little relevant on Labor Day though.


“That’s straight out of Fitzgerald and Keats, my friend. Straight out…and VENICE UNDER GLASS is more a lyrical prose poem to Venice than anything else.”

What could possibly go wrong?


If writing a banal mystery book set in Venice with sentient teddy bears as characters wasn’t a clear sign of mental illness,

And right there you’ve lost us.
(Presumably you feel the same way about the giant bug in Kafka’s “Metamorphosis,” or anything else remotely “zany.”)


If only his nom-de-plume were T Eldiar.


I don’t buy that line of reasoning. The vast majority of work in any medium is unremarkable at best.

Amateurs have had paint brushes and canvases at their disposal for centuries, that doesn’t “devalue (or destroy)” the work of great masters. Practically every middle schooler has some kind of camera on their person these days, it doesn’t diminish the work of Ansel Adams. So why bemoan the ability of ordinary people to publish novels?


“Do you not know that there is greatness in each one of us? That there is greatness in you? What do you stand for? What do you defend?”

"I don’t know about greatness, but I did eat a TON of jellybeans today. "


Nobody will ever top composer Max Reger’s reply to critic Rudolf Louis: “Sir: I am seated in the smallest room of my home. Your review is before me. Shortly it will be behind me.” Brief, elegant, witty, and probably true.


They don’t devalue it, they make it hilarious. Before self-publishing, all these terrible books were unwritten or limited to a single copy, hidden at the bottom of somebody’s sock drawer. Now, the whole world can delight in Ravaged by the Raptor or Horny Ghost of Osama Bin Laden (probably not work safe and also terminally stupid). Bad fiction makes good fiction better.


In other news, Will Self calls George Orwell a literary mediocrity.


I can’t help but notice that Will Self’s own style is more-or-less the polar opposite of Orwell’s. In any case, the article is mostly an attack on Orwell’s linguistic “ideology”, rather than on Orwell’s writing itself.


The author’s first couple of comments seemed fairly reasonable, and could have been the start of a constructive dialogue, but he couldn’t let it stop there… he flooded the message area with comments of an increasingly nasty tone, making the whole thing a monologue. I know the feeling when I’m incensed about something being discussed online and keep thinking of more things to say after I’ve already posted, but I try to restrain myself and save the other comments until somebody else has gotten some words in first.


I don’t buy that line of reasoning. The vast majority of work in any medium is unremarkable at best.

Amen, Brainspore. And as a corollary, just because Amazon gives me the tools to publish doesn’t mean anyone is going to read it.

I’ve read some pretty atrocious stuff that you’ll find in your local B&N, and those people have presumably gone through the process of an editor, an agent, a publisher, etc.; and I’ve read things that were self-published that were great.

I’m also curious to know what the hell “womanlike” means. :smile:


Clearly a nom de plume. The style is definitely Prime Minister Harper’s. (Not the writing style, but the reflexive lashing out at anyone who dares to criticize him.)


Will Self isn’t the first person to recognize how absurd Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” is. As people have written before, Orwell can’t even follow his own writing advice in the essay itself! If Orwell had more sense of humor I’d almost think he was writing a parody of prescriptivism by showing its impossibility.


What amuses me is that if he hadn’t used a nom de plume, what we now call Orwellian would instead be called Blairite.