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I’ve Got a Stalker!

August 11, 2011

So I checked my Email this morning and saw there was a new comment on my review of “Bridge of Sighs” by Richard Russo.  Turns out it’s by someone calling herself “SkinnyLove” who of course has no activity on Amazon before this.  Yet she’s done an awful lot of research on me!

Just a note to users who are searching ratings looking for legitimate reviews, based off their own subjective point of view in regards to what is and what is not “worthy”: BJ rated a Cat Adams novel with four stars while rating Bridge of Sighs with one.

You be the judge if his opinion of literature is of any worth whatsoever. Of course, I’m making a certain implication here. I guess another example would be that he rates a book called “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns” with three stars. Out of all the books in the English language too, Cider House Rules is the one book that made BJ want to become a “serious writer”. I’m not knocking that book or even John Irving for that matter, but I will say that there are multitudes of books vastly more complex, interwoven, philosophical, poetic, and time-enduring. It is a bit too ironic for knocking Russo here for not having a complex enough plot of one-dimensional characters when you adore Irving so much (e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Irving#Recurring_themes).

I guess, all I have to say is who am I to judge? If you don’t like Russo, or, in my opinion, this wonderful novel, then I’m pretty limited in changing your opinion. And, that’s fine. One resolution would be to just not read this book and watch the good ole’ boob tube, some enlightening TV, or, to be more specific, Daria. Apparently, BJ rates that with four stars.

Apparently she’s not interested in graphic novels and has something against “Daria.”

And here’s the response from my reviewing moniker, BJ Fraser:

Hi, troll. Also, stalker from how much work you’ve put into getting to know me.

Let me explain this process since you don’t GET it. I’m not using the same scale for literary fiction like Russo that I’m using for other genres or DVDs or graphic novels. (Incidentally “The Dark Knight Returns” is one of the most famous graphic novels in history.)

Instead I’m comparing apples with apples. “Bridge of Sighs” was in my opinion Russo’s weakest effort since his first novel, “Mohawk.” Even weaker since this was a veteran novelist and not a newcomer. So that’s what my review reflects.

It’s similar to how a film critic like Roger Ebert might give 3 stars to a horror movie like “The Final Destination” and also 3 stars to a drama like “Winter’s Bone.” No one’s saying that one is as good as the other; it’s saying that one is good for a horror movie and the other is good for a drama.

In the same way when I review literary fiction I’m comparing it to other literary fiction. When I review thrillers I compare them to other thrillers. Because they are different and the audiences generally are different with different expectations.

And of course it would be really silly to compare a book to DVDs or Ring Pop suckers or Tide detergent. There’s no basis for comparisons.

So now I hope you GET it and will stop trying to smear my name.

The valuable lesson in this is to understand how reviewing works.  As I said, you can’t compare apples and oranges.  Trying to use one scale for every genre or every medium would be impossible.  Basically I’d have to say every thriller or YA novel or whatever is 3 stars or less because they can’t write as well as a Richard Russo or John Irving or Kurt Vonnegut.

So as I said, I try to compare books within their genre.  In the same way when I review music (which is rare) I’m not going to compare the new album by folk group Among the Oak & Ash to Metallica; they have nothing in common!  Instead I compare it to other folk artists I listen to.

Anyway, I’m going to wait for the anonymous comments to start pouring in now.

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7 Comments
  1. Oh mutt…you do have a way with words. The ladies in the world must love you (I’m thinking your stalker is a lady–I get that “tone” from it).

    Keep us updated on your review drama!

    • I’m pretty sure I know who it is, which is why I left a couple subtle hints in my comment. Apparently she did not take kindly to me referencing our little feud in a couple of entries. So I guess after I wouldn’t post her comment here she decided to throw a little tantrum on one of my reviews. So it goes.

  2. Wow. This girl is a little stalkerish, huh? If she doesn’t like your review system, no one is forcing her to read it.

    But it seems pretty logical to me. You don’t compare a cozy mystery to a biography. Or a YA to literary fiction. Just not the same.

  3. How do you generate such a response in women? You’re like the Han Solo of reviewers. (Mandatory… well, you know.)

    Why do people say you can’t compare apples and oranges? I like the taste of oranges better, but you can’t eat the peel, so apples are more versatile, and apples hide their seeds in the core, making it easier to eat them. But apples stick in my teeth. There, I did it.

    On that note, I think you SHOULD compare every book that reviewer liked to a Ring Pop. If you’re going to feud, feud.

    But overall, nicely defended. And I loved “The Dark Knight Returns.” It’s my favorite Batman story of all time.

    • I got an Email from this person today (first off I’m not sure where he/she got my Email addy from) claiming to be someone named “Kevin Flinn.” Hurm. The plot thickens. There was some whole long diatribe quoting from the book and stuff. I’d quote back but I gave my copy away to the library.

      I didn’t really like TDKR, but Frank Miller is on my list of things I don’t GET, so there you go. My favorite Batman story is the Bane vs. Batman one from the 90s, which is why I’m excited to see “The Dark Knight Rises” next year. It’s also why I have an Azrael Batman figure on my desk. I’m surprised he/she didn’t bring up my review of that toy either.

  4. I love that you’ve been throwing around things about people “getting” stuff this week. It’s very clever. Your logic sounds good to me. I guess I could get defensive if you dismissed something I love if I felt you were also dismissing me as having poor taste or somehow lesser of a person due to my preferences. But beyond that I have a hard time understanding why folks get all bent out of shape about that sort of thing. I hate tons of stuff, I’m sure some of it’s bound to be something that other people love. It’s just how people are.

    • More people need to have a tolerant attitude like that. I mean just because you love something or hate something doesn’t mean the rest of the world should. The world would be a lot more peaceful if we thought that way.

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