give me one reason

Since Becky made reference to it in my last entry’s comments, our publisher recently sent us a photocopy of a review for SOMEONE LIKE YOU that has me baffled. I’m not going to name the reviewer, or the publication in which it was published, because I don’t think either deserves the attention.

First, the reviewer blatantly accuses us of writing SLY so it would be turned into a movie, or a television show. Oh, sure. Because that angle worked so well with our first three books, not to mention the other two Becky and I wrote together. And my short stories are being adapted by Oliver Stone! Because Hollywood was banging down our door, we spent a year of our lives writing and editing SLY just so it could be made into a movie. I understand that our “beach reads” have to be reviewed with a snarky attitude, because they are fluffy lighthearted entertainment. But if a reviewer feels he or she has to do this, please feel free to put us in our place by reminding us that we aren’t Andrew Holleran. Compare our books and characters to his. Or Felice Picano. Or John Weir. They are brilliant writers, and I will humbly and gladly lick their boots like the hack that I am. That would be putting us in our place. Why, oh why, must we be compared to Will & Grace? That was a television show. If we published a script, I could understand. But we didn’t. Maybe the reviewer doesn’t understand the difference between a script and a novel.

Next, is this puzzling quote:

“Young Derek has trouble in his sugar-daddy relationship with an older (gasp, he’s 27!) hotel heir, Hunter, so he takes a job at a department store where he meets Vienna, who is black for no apparent reason, and more than she seems.”

Um… Can somebody explain to me what “black for no apparent reason” means? I wasn’t aware that there are specific reasons for characters in a book to be black, or any other race. I’m surprised Meg wasn’t “Korean for no apparent reason.” For that matter, I wonder why the reviewer didn’t feel it necessary to mention that Derek is white? Probably because we OBVIOUSLY only wrote the book so it would be made into a television show, and what main character on Friends or Will & Grace were black? If they were, I’m sure there would’ve been a darned good reason.

Maybe we should write Faizah into a chapter of TJB5 and put an Aunt Jemima ‘do-rag on her head and make sure she serves fried chicken and tells a few colorful pearls of wisdom before she cleans the kitchen. You know, so there’ll be an apparent reason for her to be in the book.

About timothyjlambert

Timothy J. Lambert is allegedly a writer.
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46 Responses to give me one reason

  1. n8an says:

    Well, you met a reviewer, who is stupid for no apparent reason, and less than he seems.

  2. I don’t think this particular person read the book right.

    And movie? Sure, I can see it being turned into a movie, but to say that you wrote it strickly for that purpose is nutters. Too much detail for that on all levels.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Actually

    …if I had to compare it in tone and structure to another writer (which I usually hate but sometimes resort to when trying to describe someone’s book), I would have compared it to Armistead Maupin: a broad cast of characters with several parallel storylines that all converge at the end. But then, he’s probably too “lightweight” for the reviewer in question to have deigned to read him.

    And since when is it so wrong to be entertaining? Sheesh. Should it be a chore to read a novel? If so, then I would be reading the collected works of Ayn Rand over and over until my eyes bled. And “black for no apparent reason”? What the hell does that mean?

    I think it would be cathartic to visualize kicking this reviewer in the throat while working on TJB5.

    Okay, my Julia Sugarbaker tirade is over.

    Jeffrey Ricker

    • Re: Actually

      Thank you. I love it when we’re compared to Armistead Maupin. Even if it’s unfavorably. =)

      I understand comparing authors (or novels) to one another to justify a point in a review in order for a potential reader to have some idea what to expect before they purchase a book. However, I wouldn’t take a comparitive lit class and expect to hear my professor compare works of literature—or even contemporary lit—to television shows and movies. I expect the same from a proper reviewer, as well. It comes off as very insulting, as if to say we’re not real authors, so why bother to compare us to another writer?

      Maybe I’m reading too much into it. Maybe I’m too thin skinned. But I’d still like to meet this person and shake them like a British nanny.

  4. 1. The title of this post cracked me up.
    2. I love Faizah.

  5. scottynola says:

    Didn’t John include his usual note stating “this review fairly reeks with the stench of failed author?”

    • Damn it, he NEVER says that to us. What does that mean?

    • No, he didn’t. But after doing some searching and reading other reviews this person has written, I came to that conclusion on my own.

    • scottynola says:

      Well, he only did it for me once, but it made me howl with laughter and that’s, rightly or wrongly, how I take the bad ones now, especially from the queer media.

      In other words, the reviewer is also an author who has never had anything published, and reads every book with the mentality “Why is this crap being published while my incredibly brilliant Proustian style first novel gets rejected everywhere? Ah, yes, because no one publishes GOOD books anymore, and if I tear down everything published, maybe I will convince the publishing world to rethink how they do business.”

      All it really does is convince editors not to publish them, ever. I keep waiting for the day when someone who has trashed me submits a book to me. I am petty enough to reject it unread.

      • scottynola says:

        Caveat: Actually, I would use their own sentences and comments from their nasty review of my book in their rejection letter. BWA HA HA HA. In the distance, a dog howled.

        • what credentials does a person have to have to be a reviewer? Is it whom they know at a publishing company? Or someone who claims to be well read?

          • Beats me. In the overall scheme of things, every time a book gets reviewed, it appears that our book sales go up. So even a bad review puts the cover, title, whatever, in the public eye, and I thank the reviewers for publicizing our novels. But occasionally, I really am baffled by the things reviewers say.

          • rhondarubin says:

            It just proves the old adage, “There’s no such thing as bad press.”

            Are reviewers failed authors, or are they former English majors who believe all words in print should be masterpieces? Doesn’t matter, really. They believe that their jobs give them some sort of power over authors’ success or failure. I wonder if they know that even their bad reviews cause people to buy your books? I’ll bet it would really kill ‘em.

            Your books entertain me. They make me laugh, and sometimes they even make me think. They’re witty. My car even appears in one of them. With exception of the car, your books have exactly what I look for in a book. I want to be entertained. TJB and C&L books foot the bill perfectly.

  6. davidpnyc says:

    You’re right, it is odd for a reviewer to compare two completely different art forms like that. I remember reading a review of a popular “chick lit” novel that the reviewer compared to “Sex in the City.” I wonder if it’s just a sign of the times that we live in, where nowadays it’s not unheard of for a screenplay to be adapted from a novel before its even been published? Perhaps the lines are becoming blurred? That’s certainly no excuse though, and I would think that a legitimate reviewer would know that too.

  7. marikanola says:

    Oh .. the Will and Grace comparison! The bane of my existance! I hate that!

  8. Anonymous says:

    for no apparent reason

    That is so strange. I was reading the quote and that hit me funny. For no apparent reason. So strange.
    John G in CT

  9. darshan1 says:

    I wonder why your publisher sent you such a ridiculous review? Or do they just send you clips of all the reviews, regardless of good or bad? I collected reviews at Putnam, but I don’t know if they were sent to authors. I hope we didn’t. My friend’s novella was crucified by ultra-bitch, Dionne Galance, and I’m not even going to mention the review to her.

    • Yeah, they send us everything. Good and bad. Which is a good thing, because we like to know what’s being said about us. That way we always have the option of learning something from constructive criticism. Or, we can always add to the growing list of people who aren’t going to make the cut when we take over the world.

  10. brentsbrain says:

    Oh, God, I’ve so been there. I think I had that exact same review.

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