Wednesday, June 11, 2014

KIRKUS Gives Me Very Little Love

My Kirkus review for What Came Before is in and though I seriously considered not publishing it (when you pay $400 dollars for a review, they kindly let you opt-out of having it available to the reading public), I owe it to myself and others to share it.  Doesn't everyone get lousy reviews?

I remember some old black-and-white movie in which a director, the producers, and actors gather in a restaurant (Sardi's?) waiting for the newspaper reviews after the debut of their play.  All About Eve comes to mind, but maybe not.

Anyway, reviews, it is posited, can make or break a play, a movie, a book. As creative people, we think we need them and we think what we've done may be good enough for a good review, but not every piece of work will appeal to everyone. The question is, should a review hurt our chances of success?

I don't think so.  I hope not.

How many times have I read in the Los Angeles Times that this movie or that movie is a transcendental experience or a piece of garbage, and after seeing said movie wonder, what the hell?  To use a cliche (a writing flaw my anonymous critic accuses me of), beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I just read the other day that curriculum honchos in schools in England have dropped Of Mice and Men and To Kill a Mockingbird from required reading lists. The Huffington Post has tried to make us writers feel better by publishing in 2012 "Bad Reviews of Great Authors."  Here are a couple of examples:

"Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronte
"There is not in the entire dramatis persona, a single character which is not utterly hateful or thoroughly contemptible."

Atlas, 1848

"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
"no more than a glorified anecdote, and not too probable at that... Only Gatsby himself genuinely lives and breathes. The rest are mere marionettes—oftenastonishingly lifelike, but nevertheless not quite alive."

- H.L. Mencken, Baltimore Evening Sun, 1925

"Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov
"Unfortunately, it is bad news. There are two equally serious reasons why it isn't worth any adult reader's attention. The first is that it is dull, dull, dull in a pretentious, florid and archly fatuous fashion. The second is that it is repulsive."

LET ME BE CLEAR!  I am in no way claiming my little book is anything like the books we commonly love and admire.  However, what I am saying is that although there are some valid points to my critic's analysis (occasional cliches, clues too easy, lacking "gravitas"), it seems to me that he/she hasn't given me much credit for the things some of my readers believe I did accomplish.  "Unsatisfying" I think is the word that struck me as NOT the common experience.

There are a couple hints in the review that perhaps it has some merit, but none proffered without a "but," an "although," "that said," or "nevertheless," making it difficult to use the good bits without feeling as if I'm cheating.

So here's the link to the KIRKUS REVIEW.  Although reading it may discourage a read or two, but if you want to give What Came Before a chance--and hopefully see for yourself if you like it--it's still online FREE online, all seventy chapters at EVERY DAY NOVELS.

And yes, if you agree or disagree with the review, Kirkus allows for comments.

You can also purchase it for KINDLE or in a gift edition hardback at or  Trade paperback is coming soon. Other ebook options at Tomely.

1 comment:

Stevie Hanna said...

I review is simply ONE person's opinion. That is all. Be proud of your work regardless of what anyone says, however I hope you find success in everything that you do. Good luck and sorry about the bad review.