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PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:21 pm 
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=D>

Slights was great. I'm looking forward to this...


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 5:11 pm 
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Regarding Pete's latest White Noise:

I think reviews divide into 3
(1) those that curve as far as possible to the positive to encourage reading in general (a la John Updike's reviewing rules).
(2) Those that are negative.
(3) Those that are mocking or tendentious.

With (3), I suggest the review is not made at all or given to another reviewer.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 6:53 pm 
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For what it's worth, I often follow the advice of a good review hoping I'll enjoy it just as much as the reviewer did but knowing I might not. If I don't like it, I'll know quick enough to quit, but if I do... well, that's a gift I'm very thankful for and it justifies the whole process, as far as I'm concerned. I experienced Silent Land that way, and Slights. Which isn't to say I can't find a good book on my own, by the way! As for negative reviews, a lot of that depends on the reasoning. 'But then I don't like horror anyway', for example, at the end of a negative review of The Darkest Horror of Horrible Horrorsville, will not convince me it's rubbish (though the title might).

All that is as a reader.

As a writer, I value all reviews and criticisms. 'Pins and Needles' a while back had a pretty mixed 'marmite-like' response, but most of the negative opinions were well considered by each particular reader (though there was one 'absolute crap' or such like comment that didn't really fight its corner much).

*disclaimer* I am not aware of an actual book called The Darkest Horror of Horrible Horrorsville and do not mean any offence if there is such a title.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:58 am 
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Just for the sake of future readers, we're talking about this entry on the Black Static blog, on the row over the Strange Horizons review of Theft of Swords, by Michael J. Sullivan.

Having read Pete's blog, lots of....
Image
...in there, as ever!

Interesting to note that the author himself has a very sensible approach to bad reviews, despite the fuss being kicked up by others in defence of his book. I would imagine that he's mortally embarrassed by all of this.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:22 am 
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Pete's position seems eminently reasonable to me. There must be something in the air right now, as it seems a similar storm has blown up over a "much-hyped" YA novel, Tempest by Julie Cross. See here:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jan/16/ya-novel-readers-publishing-establishment

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 11:06 am 
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Reading about the Tempest row led to this astonishing conversation on Goodreads. Author Leigh Fallon (published in the UK by HarperCollins) sent an email out to friends, saying in part:

Quote:
There is the stupid cow from Goodreads who has been real nasty and keeps doing up really bad reviews of Carrier, then gets her friends to go in and 'like' her bad reviews so that that review will be pushed up to the top of all the lists. Now she's put it up on Amazon! She is a disgruntled old cow who doesn't like me and how I got published. There's no point in saying anything about her or responding (she loves that) but what we can do is push her review back down the list by bringing all the good reviews back to the top.


And the email ended up in the hands of the reviewer in question, who posted it on Goodreads.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 12:58 pm 
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This all sounds very much like a reprise of the Young Adult mafia we were hearing about last year :lol:

Quote:
Ray wrote:-
I often follow the advice of a good review


I think from a reader point of view it's best to find, through trial and error, the reviewers whose tastes are most in accord with your own. For example, as a seasoned reader of vampire fiction, I might look at a new novel and dismiss it as totally derivative of Rice, Hamilton etc, and that's a valid position for me, but at the same time it's not much use for the reader who has finished Meyer's oeuvre and now wants to discover what other vampire books are out there, and won't find this new book derivative simply because they haven't read any of the vampire subgenre.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 1:27 pm 
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Good point. I'm bored with the exploits of Anita Blake, but I do urge my Meyer obsesseed students to go to Hamilton's books instead (though I stopped reading them myself a while back) and they love them. It's nice to make a difference in that way.

There are a shocking amount of reviews out there that simply summarise the story and regurgitate whatever comment is on the cover - those are the worst, in my opinion. I like to get a sense of the reviewer too - the review has to inform, persuade, but entertain a little as well for me. I am very demanding. :lol:


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 1:37 pm 
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Quote:
Des wrote:-
Regarding Pete's latest White Noise:

I think reviews divide into 3
(1) those that curve as far as possible to the positive to encourage reading in general (a la John Updike's reviewing rules).
(2) Those that are negative.
(3) Those that are mocking or tendentious.

With (3), I suggest the review is not made at all or given to another reviewer.


I think you can divide reviews like that Des, providing you qualify it by saying 'mainly' positive/negative. My own feeling is that very few books are wholly good or bad, and reviews will reflect that, so I'd prefer a sliding scale, with reviews that are so glowing they could only be written by the author's mother at one end, and those so vitriolic they could have been penned by an ex at the other, and all points in between.

I'm not sure about 'those that curve as far as possible to the positive to encourage reading'. I'd assume anyone reading book reviews has already made up their minds about the value of reading, and it's simply a matter of deciding what they are to read. As far as that goes, I don't think giving a free pass to flawed work will reinforce the reading habit (and yes, I do know that's not what you're saying). I'd argue that any responsible reviewer already 'curves as far as possible to the positive' as long as they can do so without showing bad faith to the readers interested in their views, and sometimes a very negative review is the most positive you can be and remain honest.

Regarding your third point, I don't think there's anything wrong with mocking or tendentious reviews per se, and I've certainly seen some books that deserve to be mocked, though generally it's not my style of reviewing. Equally though, I've seen some where, as stated in the blog post, the mockery becomes counter-productive. In a similar vein, I once got so far up a friend's nose about bloody Thatcher she went and voted Tory at the General Election, though before I got on the case she'd had no intention of voting at all. Meh! People! :roll:

The problem for me is how you decide when a line has been crossed, and how do we stop that veering over into censorship of any negative viewpoints. If you follow through to each of the links in the above posts, it's obvious that there are people who believe the reviews in question are tendentious, but equally there are those who find them perfectly acceptable.

You mention Updike's rules, but worth remembering that they are guidelines for writing a fair and reasonable review, not necessarily a positive one, and also worth noting that despite his rules Updike was often seen as a very tendentious reviewer:-

http://gawker.com/5069587/toni-morrison ... fit-victim

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/201 ... hurst.html

My own feeling in general is that any review, as long as it stops short of personal abuse and deals with the facts, is allowable, and we then place trust in the good sense of the reader to realise when a review goes too far. With my writer's hat on, if I'm going to get a negative review, I'd rather it was something that was full on vitriolic than a more reasoned one, so that readers were focused on the reviewer's obvious arse-whiffery instead of any of my shortcomings that got highlighted :lol:

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:01 pm 
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Pete, if your post above was on Facebook I'd click the 'like' button. Just on the Updike point, his protocols I admire in isolation simply labelled Updike for ease of reference. As with everybody, Updike doesn't live up to his own ideals. A great fiction writer, though.

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