Friday, January 08, 2010

Quote of the Week: Book Reviewers

"Book reviewers are the most despicable, loathsome order of swine that ever rooted about the earth. They are sniveling, revolting creatures who feed their own appetites for bile by gnawing apart other people's work. They are human garbage. They all deserve to be struck down by awful diseases described in the most obscure dermatology journals.

Book reviewers live in tiny studios that stink of mothballs and rotting paper. Their breath reeks of stale coffee. From time to time they put on too-tight shirts and pants with buckles and shuffle out of their lairs to shove mayonnaise-laden sandwiches into their faces, which are worn in to permanent snarls. Then they go back to their computers and with fat stubby fingers they hammer out "reviews." Periodically they are halted as thy burst into porcine squeals, gleefully rejoicing in their cruelty.

Even when being "kindly," book reviewers reveal their true nature as condescending jerks. "We look forward to hearing more from the author," a book reviewer might say. The prissy tones sound like a second-grade piano teacher, offering you a piece of years-old strawberry hard candy and telling you to practice more..

But a bad book review is just disgusting.

Ask yourself: of all the jobs available to literate people, what monster chooses the job of "telling people how bad different books are"? What twisted fetishist chooses such a life?

This isn't Don Rickles at a celebrity roast, where everyone's having a laugh over shrimp cocktail and a Tom Collins. People still quote Dorothy Parker, because she was the last book reviewer who was funny. That was eighty years ago.

Nor do I cut book reviewers any slack for "advancing the arts" or "calling good work to our attention" or "keeping the culture of letters alive." If a guy drove around your neighborhood with a bullhorn, pointing out which people were too fat, he would be advancing public wellness, and calling fitness to our attention, and keeping public health alive. But you would hate him. You would throw rocks at him, as well you should."
 - Steve Hely, How I Became a Famous Novelist, pp.148-149

By the way, have you seen my review of that book?


lianemerciel said...

I have, actually, and I was just meaning to drop by and thank you for bringing that book to my attention. I bought it because of your review, read it last week, and loved it. So thanks for doing that post; I might never have learned about Hely's book or enjoyed it otherwise.

Bill Peschel said...

Boy, I wish we really were like that. At least it's a personality.

(BTW, I agree, that's a great book, especially if you're involved in writing or publishing.)

Joe Sherry said...

But...I don't like mayonnaise.

Rhiannon Hart said...

Oh, boohoo Steve Hely. Did somebody give you a bad review? Rise above it and be thankful for your free publicity. Because that's what reviews are.

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