Once upon a time, I received my first ever advance review copy in the form of Kristopher Rufty’s Last One Alive, a fun slasher novella with one of the more memorable slashers I’ve come across. I found numerous errors in the book, but I loved the story, so I gave the book five stars and emailed the author to inform him about the errors. I never mentioned the errors in my review.
Fast forward to the week after Last One Alive released. I received an email from Amazon about how I had a response to my first review on their site! I clicked on the link and read the response.
“When are authors goning [sic] to learn that readers know when they swap reviews.” The lack of a question mark was also [sic] so I didn’t answer, you know, because it wasn’t a question.
But in all seriousness, I had no idea what the fuck this user was talking about. I hadn’t swapped reviews with Rufty. I didn’t even know the guy. I’d happened upon his Facebook post offering review copies of his latest book, asked for one in the comments, and he sent me one. To this day, I don’t think he’s ever read a single word of mine.
Another week passed and the hate kept on coming. I was getting regular messages and comments about how I failed to mention how poorly the book had been edited, as if I’d been lying to cover for him. It was my first public review under this name, and my own book hadn’t even come out yet. Bay’s End wouldn’t be out until early 2012. I had “author” as my profession on Facebook, and I didn’t have a Twitter account, but my Goodreads account was brand new and didn’t say anything about me being an author. On my Goodreads review of Last One Alive, someone said, “Why are you hiding that you’re an author?” I never responded. I deleted my personal account, in turn deleting my review on Goodreads, and then I deleted my Amazon review. From that day on, I promised myself I’d always mention even the smallest error in my reviews.
Months went by, my book came out, and I kept right on reviewing. Despite advice from my editor and friends, I continued to review. The more brutally honest I was in my reviews, the more likes I got. The more likes I got, the more books I sold. I was being honest and it was paying off. Years went by and I gained a reputation as someone readers trusted and authors feared. Silly, I know, but to this day I still get comments like, “Thanks for the review! I was kinda worried when I saw you were reading my books…” Or, if the review is negative, I’ll hear about so-and-so complaining about me with one of the many authors whom I’ve been critical of over the years. I don’t mind that, by the way. Seeking solidarity is fine by me.
Anyway, I never wanted this reputation. I never wanted to be “the only honest author,” as someone called me on Twitter last month. (There are a lot of honest authors: Michael Patrick Hicks, the Berhg (probably spelled that wrong), Linda Hilton, Daniel Barnett, Gregor Xane, and numerous others) I don’t want to be feared or even respected. I just want to be able to read and share my opinion without being labeled a bully, or as one slighted author calls me on occassion, a “miserable fat cunt.”.
Am I honest? Yes. Have I personally attacked authors? I’m not proud of it, but yes, in the past I have. (Despite what I say in my review of Jeffrey Ford’s The Twilight Pariah, I have no proof that Paul Tremblay fucks turtles. [I’m chuckling just typing that because I am, indeed, a terrible person]). Satire is no excuse. Fucking turtles is serious business, and I’m sure Tremblay respects all amphibians, whether they be teenaged mutants or otherwise. Some of my most popular reviews have been what some have called “hit pieces”: see my hilarious-albeit-immature reviews of Along Came a Spider, by James Patterson, and Armada, by Ernest Cline. Jerusalem, by Alan Moore, is another such review, although it’s a bit more mature, in tone if not language. I’ve long thought that if the books I read are not entertaining, the review should be. I have crossed the line from time to time, but like Paul Tremblay in the aquarium section of PetSmart, I never meant any harm.
Fine, I’ll stop! Shit, if no one else thinks it’s funny I sure as shit do. Just goddamn imagine a grown-ass man trying to fuck a tiny-ass turtle. I’ll wait…
No? Fine. FINE! I’ll stop…
…you goddamn turtle fucker.
Today’s blog is not a plea to understand or forgive me. This is not me saying I’m going to change my ways, and it certainly is not crowd control. There’s nothing going on (that I’m aware of…) What this blog is is a bit of introspection. I wanted to see if I could pinpoint the moment that I became the Edward Lorn everyone knows and loves/hates, and I feel that I became this hero/monster after that first response to my Last One Alive review on Amazon. Since then, I’ve responded to every author’s inquiry to review each other’s books with “Sorry, I don’t participate in review swaps.” I’ve been unfollowed for doing so, and in some extreme cases I’ve been blocked. Authors are a touchy breed. They’re either totally accepting, or viciously cruel. Rarely do you find anyone in the middle. Even I, depending on what circles you run in, am considered to be one or the other.
But one thing’s for sure. Despite my reputation, (talentless turtle fuckers aside…I kid, I KID!) I’ve only ever been honest. Even that original Rufty review was my sincere opinion, and I wish everyone would check his book out. I’ve never left a negative review in retaliation, or because I was jealous. My reviews have always been my honest personal opinions. For better or worse, I am what I am. Love me or hate me, your opinion of me affects me not at all.
In reading news, I finished So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed and ‘Salem’s Lot. I’m still reading (and loving) Black House with my good friend Angela, and I’m amost done with an ARC of Recursion, by Blake Crouch. I’ll be starting my reread of The Shining this week, and an ARC of The Ditch, by Herman Koch, once I’m done with Recursion. What are y’all reading, and how’ve you been since the last time we spoke? No weight updates today. I have a surprise coming this week and I don’t wanna spoil it.
Take care of one another, and I’ll see you next Monday!
Mad at me? How about you…
Buy all of Paul Tremblay’s books: https://www.amazon.com/Paul-Tremblay/e/B001JRTI1K