Monday, June 23

As for me, I like nice.

"This book is so bad, so horrible, so nauseating and phoney [sic] that it's amazing." From a review of Bridges of Madison County.

"That's all they have, 50 friends? Did her BFF Oprah show up? How about the brown nosing Clintons? What Hillary actually missed a photo op?" A comment on People's article about Katie Couric and John Molner's wedding.

I read stories on the Internet most mornings. Since I’m not a TV watcher, this is how I learn most of what I know about the news. Not just the war-crime-politics portions, but movie-star and TV-personality stuff, too. (This embarrasses me to admit, since I’m always complaining about the quality—or lack thereof—on both TV and in the movies.)
                When I finish reading the stories, my attention invariably goes to the “comments” section at the end. And it doesn’t matter a bit what the subject matter of the story is, whether it’s Katie Couric’s wedding or Bowe Bergdahl’s rescue, many of the comments are scathing. They’re mean and heartless and often illiterate. Yes, this is a free country—you can write whatever you please about whomever you please whenever you please. Libel seems just a way of life for many people and no one seems to care. If commenters are lying, hey, that’s okay. No matter what they say or how they say it, they attach the opinion label to it and all is well.
                Book reviewers do this, too. Not all of them, not even many of them. But I do have to wonder, if reviewers don’t like the book, why can’t they just say it didn’t work for them? The editing threw them off-track. They were upset by a black moment they couldn’t buy into. The writing itself wasn’t what they required. They just didn’t care for the story.  Why do they feel it’s necessary to attack the author? (No, this hasn’t happened to me, but I’ve read reviews like that, haven’t you?)
                I know being nice just for niceness’s sake drives some people crazy. I know the term “politically correct” is anathema to those who seek to, you know, not be. My sister-in-law rolls her eyes because I write books in which no one kills anyone and the protagonists all live happily ever after. (She does this before she reads them and tells other people how good they are—she’s the best of sisters.) As far as I know, she’s never read romance by anyone else, though Bridges of Madison County is her all-time favorite movie.
                I didn’t like Bridges of Madison County, the book. I didn’t like the movie much better, though I would watch Meryl Streep no matter what she did. But I guess my point is, I didn’t know Robert James Waller, its author—so why would I want to denigrate his character or the way he tells a story because I didn’t like his book?
                Answers, anybody?
                Have a great week. Like Holly Jacobs says, hope you find some glee.

14 comments:

  1. I don't like society's present over-political correctness, since it's often used as an excuse to shut down people we don't agree with. However, I'm with you 100% on how unnecessarily cruel people have become. If I don't like a book, I just don't leave a review. I see no reason to make people feel bad, if it's not going to help the situation. It's amazing how fast someone can turn a disagreement over anything into a personal attack.

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    1. Right, and I should have put a qualifier in there: I tend to get my feelings hurt too easily, but I'm not alone in that. Regardless of people going around touting the "grow a thick skin" mantra, I'd rather go with the one that says "first do no harm." Thanks for coming by and commenting!

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  2. I don't leave a review if I don't like the book. I figure someone else might like it, so why should I color their opinion with mine. I'm all about "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all!"

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    1. I don't, either. I think if I weren't a writer, I would, but even then I hope I'd keep the reviews not-personal! I kept thinking about Thumper and his mother the whole time I wrote the blog. :-) Thanks for coming by, Jannine.

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  3. I like to read online articles, especially from the Indianapolis Star, because I always read the comments. Many of them are not kind, and often show the lack of literacy that is rampant among readers. When I am seeking out a new author I will read the reviews of the book. Bad reviews do not keep me from reading a book unless it touches on something I may not like also (such as an unlikeable heroine or hero). For myself I will leave a review if I love/like a book but will not bother if I don't like it. Liking a book seems to be a personal preference to me. I have loved books that have been slammed by reviewers (and disliked books that received rave reviews).

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    1. The mean ones make my stomach hurt--it's that simple. I don't pay that much attention to reviews at all when it comes to buying, but I admit a horrible review would make me want to give a new writer a chance. Duh moments, huh?

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  4. I once read a review where the person actually said she hoped the writer's children die. I've never forgotten it and can't imagine how the writer must have felt. Why would anyone say something so cruel?

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    1. That is beyond the scope of my imagination. I once worked with someone who literally prayed that our supervisors would die. I've never quite gotten over that.

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  5. I was complaining to someone that I was stuck reviewing a fellow Crimson author's book and I hated it. But I didn't want to/couldn't say so. Someone told me to find one positive and focus on that. I did, it worked and that's what I do now if I don't care for someone's book.

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    1. I'm with Margie--I think that's a good way to go. I do have a tendency to say "great cover!" when I'm stumped for anything else, so I'm about as generic as it gets.

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  6. I think this period in history will be known as the age of entitlement. In that everyone things they are entitled to whatever they want, whenever they want. And one of those things is that people seem to think they are entitled to say anything they wish to say--that we all are awaiting what "wisdom" should pour out of their mouths--or flows from their fingers. Feelings be damned.

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    1. Exactly. Toss in a some hate and some greed and you'll have the whole thing.

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    2. Which is a sad state of affairs :( I think this generation and the next will be judged harshly when it comes to history and looking back.

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