“Be the first to review this item…”
This phrase stares at me from Amazon’s Under the Suns page. My book has been out for a month now and still no reviews. I’ve been told it’s good, but no one has staked their Amazonian street cred on it.
“Be the first to review this item…” is like the steel box that contains Schrödinger’s cat. For a time, the cat is both dead and alive—the imaginary reviews are both good and bad.
Bah! Who needs reviews? I’m probably the only freak who reads them, anyway. I like what food critic Anton Ego said about critics in Pixar’s Ratatouille (one of my personal favorites):
“In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the *new*. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends.”
Bad reviews are destined to come. There’s no way around it. Look up your favorite book on Amazon and read some of the one-star reviews. Can’t please everyone. Here’s some one-star comments from some of my personal favorites:
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:
“Reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is like sleeping with the town slut… everyone tells you she is good, so you give her a try. Afterward, you kick yourself for being so gullible to believe it.”
A Confederacy of Dunces:
“A disgusting yarn about an idiotic pervert. The writing is uninspired and the story lacks any respect for its audience. Not sure how this won a Pullitzer. It’s a drunken sprawl that has no sense of dignity.”
The Old Man and the Sea:
“This book was very weird. The old man is crazy. It dragged on way longer than it should have. I do not recommend this book.”
All the Pretty Horses:
“Written in a laughably absurd, utterly contrived style, Cormac McCarthy’s “All the Pretty Horses” raises a number of important questions, the first of which is: Was the publishing industry temporarily overrun by illiterates in 1992?”
Wow! Some people suck. I don’t mind a few bad reviews, as long as they’re
not universally bad.
All this to say, please love me…