Thursday Rant: So You Think You’re a Book Reviewer…
I need to rant about something and 140 characters in Twitter is not enough.
So Wednesday morning I’m looking at my feed and I see this one girl who fancies herself a book reviewer gave Slaughterhouse V 2 stars. My immediate reaction was one of those old John McEnroe reactions. Throw down my racket and start screaming, “ARE YOU SERIOUS?!”
Yeah sure this is the Internet where you can say any dumbass thing you want and unless you’re in China or Iran probably no one’s going to stop you. But there’s always the issue of whether you SHOULD say something. A lot of stuff (like saying my butt itches) is completely unnecessary on the Internet or anywhere else.
But more to the point for me is that if you’re going to hang your shingle out there calling yourself a “book reviewer” then saying you didn’t GET Slaughterhouse V makes your credibility instantly evaporate in my mind. It’s like if you want to call yourself a film critic and then say what a piece of shit “Citizen Kane” is because you didn’t GET it.
I mean Kurt Vonnegut is only one of the most respected American authors ever and Slaughterhouse V makes probably every Great Books list but you didn’t GET it so it must be crap. How the hell can you expect anyone other than other morons to ever take you seriously then? At the very least come up with a better explanation than you didn’t GET it, something people might consider a valid reason to hate such a well-regarded book.
Here are a couple of Terrible Tips if you want to be a book reviewer:
- Don’t bother with classics because everything that should be said already has
- If you are going to bother with classics, then bring your A-game. You can’t treat a classic like it’s Snooki’s latest opus. You just can’t. Because if you’re going to say you hate Slaughterhouse V, you better have a really good reason or else people are going to think you’re a moron.
And this is why I haven’t reviewed many classics. I did one for Great Expectations and just for fun I did one for Silas Marner saying the “Wishbone” episode on PBS was better. But the latter was more just a reason to pimp that old TV show than anything.
Now all this isn’t to say you have to love every classic book. I “read” Henry James (I listened to an audiobook) and positively hated it. I’d probably hate Jane Austen too because all that manners stuff and waltzes just bores the crap out of me. But if I’m going to fancy myself a book reviewer am I going to say that? No, because no one should take me seriously after that except other dimwits. Now if you’re wanting to write reviews for dimwits (maybe start a site called Blue Collar Book Reviews or something) then go nuts. Tell everyone how fucking retarded The Iliad was to you.
Of course with my book review blog I have a whole disclaimer set up about all that.
OK, I feel better now. Until some other Twit pisses me off.
Friday: another gratuitous Star Wars reference…