I’ve posted some fairly harsh reviews on here over the past few years. And, at first, I thought, “Wow! I’m a bastard.” I’ll be honest and admit that there was no sense of Machiavellian pleasure in that thought. I was genuinely appalled by my apparent vindictiveness. I’ve never wanted to be a bastard and reaching that status is not something of which I’m proud.
I try to be positive with book reviews. I know how much hard work and effort goes into any creative endeavour – books especially. Book reviews that are scathing just for the sake of being scathing are nothing more than ego trips for the reviewer. And reviewers who are consistently scathing are nothing more than bastards.
But, it seems, that’s what I’ve become. I’m a bastard.
Initially, as a reviewer, I had always tried to couch my barbs behind pleasant euphemistic phrases.
“A good effort,” was one of my favourite (condescending) phrases. “A good effort,” usually meant: if the author had spent twelve more months reading through the material, amending it and addressing all of its numerous issues, the draft MS might have been ready for the hand of an editor.
Mentioning that the book or the author “has potential” was also another of my ways to politely say that the tome stank like an overused outflow pipe on a hot summer’s day.
If I said the book “brought a tear to my eye” it was invariably because I’d considered self-harm rather than subjecting myself to reading any more of the title being reviewed.
But then my façade of geniality began to slip. I remember suggesting that one book could have used the services of a good editor. I then went on to add that the abilities of a competent author would not have gone amiss.
It was a harsh review although I still stand behind the honesty of every scathing word I wrote. The author said it was a harsh review when he or she sent me the hate mail afterwards. (I’m saying he or she because I can’t remember whether the author was male or female. And I’m too lazy to change tabs on my browser and look up this trivial piece of information).
What I should be saying when I review a poorly written book is: it’s not the quality of your book. It’s my ideals as a reviewer and publishing professional. In the current climate of mediocrity and middling abilities your book is a nadir of acceptably low standards. Sadly, I keep falling back into my old habits of hiding behind euphemistic pleasantries.
All of which brings me to Whileaway [sic].
Whileaway is a collection of short stories varying in length. Pitched as “erotic tales to revitalise the weary traveller…” and purportedly being presented by, “A Major New York Times Bestseller Peruser [sic],” the stories in Whileaway are written with a distinctly male narrator’s voice. Even when the story is lesbian sex, told from the perspective of one of the enthusiastic lesbian characters, there is still something masculine about the narrator’s voice:
She slide [sic] her fingers around, trying to find the spot. “It must have dried up,” Monika said with a concerned look. She popped her finger into her mouth and wet it. “Here let me try again.”
Her wet finger traced a cool damp line along my thigh that was so indescribably delicious, I was afraid I would shout out with joy. I felt an independent trembling of my hips that I had never experience [sic] before, as if I was going to throw up in another part of my body.
And here’s a taster from the short story “OOF.”
I fill in the application form carefully, and insert the required money order, seal the envelope and add a stamp. I had climsily [sic] torn the self-addressed envelop [sic] that came with the offer, so I am obliged to address a new envelope by hand. “OOF,” I write on the first line. Obviously it stood for “Official Old-” something-or-other. Odd they didn’t let on. A whiff of malodorous hot air is passed, causing my eyes to tear and momentarily disturb my concentration.
So, read closely through the above excerpts and appreciate that I’m being really picky about the quality of the writing. It’s not the author at fault here: it’s the bastard reviewer. If either of those snippets from the book makes a potential reader feel they want to read more, I’d advise you to rush out and buy a copy.
And, for anyone who has read this title, I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say that Whileaway is a good effort and the book or author has potential. Reviewing it brought a tear to my eye.