Review Halloo

In addition to editing and blogging and occasionally teaching, I also write fiction.  Or, as we sometimes put it around here, “I tell lies to strangers for money.”

Which means that from time to time the books I write get reviewed — sometimes by people who like them, and sometimes by people who don’t. A good review is always nice. A good review that makes it clear that the reviewer didn’t just like the book, but actually got what the writer was doing with it –above and beyond buying groceries and paying the rent — is something beyond nice.

(There’s no predicting which reviewer you’re going to get such a review from, either. Sometimes it’s from a friend who’s liked your stuff since forever; sometimes it’s from somebody whom you’d swear wouldn’t give you the time of day. Just another one of those things that make most writers just a little bit crazy.)

But a good review is not required.

It’s okay if you-the-reader or you-the-reviewer don’t like my book. Maybe the book sucks. It happens sometimes. Bad stuff can happen to the writer, or to the publisher, or to the world in general that causes the book to be radically screwed up in one way or another.

Sometimes what sounded like a good idea in the writer’s head, and a good idea in the proposal stage, and a good idea at the outline stage, turns out to have been a bad idea after all when the time comes to make an actual story out of it. Sometimes it’s a really good idea, but not, as it turns out, a really good idea that the writer in question is able to carry off.

Or maybe the book is a good book for its target audience, and that audience is not you. Maybe it’s a good book that you disagree with so intensely that it makes your eyeballs bleed. And it’s your right to say so, at whatever length you feel necessary.

But please don’t feel like you’re obliged to let me know about it. I don’t go chasing down reviews, whether good or bad – that way madness lies, at least for me – and I’m not especially interested in defending my work after I’m done with it. Once it’s all grown up and out in the world, it needs to stand or fall on its own.

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