Friday, June 02, 2006

Suspisious, or Suspicious, Minds

In the midst of a jolly day yesterday, I surfed over to Amazon and discovered that The Traitor's Wife had received a one-star review, or to put it more accurately, a comment. It consisted of a sentence, in which the writer stated that she was suspicious that the Alianor who had given me a five-star review was none other than yours truly. So burdened was the author by this suspicion, and so eager to share it with the reading public, she spelled it "suspision," having evidently forgotten in her haste about the modern-day convenience of spell check.

Well, to set the record straight, I am not Alianor. She lives in Europe; I live in the United States. She's younger than I am and probably much better looking. Nor am I either of the males who have kindly left Amazon reviews for me, nor I am ForeWord Magazine, nor am I any of the reviewers who are quoted on my website. Nor am I Janet Maslin or Michiko Kakutani. (Neither of them has yet weighed in on my novel, but I like to cover all my bases.) I don't have time to lead a double life; it's all I can do to work, make excuses for not writing, blog, and wait on my dog and cats.

Now, since the Amazon "reviewer" didn't have anything to say about my book itself, I can only assume that she was at a loss for words to express sufficiently her sheer disgust and revulsion. To help her, and anyone else who might find herself or himself at a loss in similar circumstances, I'm including some zingers here from the queen of book reviewers, the redoubtable Dorothy Parker*:

  • "I wish I could say 'rotten.' You don't know how much I need to say it." (From "Mr. [Sinclair] Lewis Lays It On with a Trowel")

  • “I have yet to have an author inform me that a character is charming, and then, by that character’s deeds and conversation, convince me of that fact.” (From “These Much Too Charming People”)

  • "Tonstant Weader Fwowed up." (From "Far From Well," a review of Winnie the Pooh)

  • "May Heaven help you, as it assisted me, through the travelogues, the debates, and the grotesquely over-drawn figures that clutter it." (From "And Again, Mr. Sinclair Lewis.")

  • "I know that Mr. Dreiser is sincere, or rather I have been told it enough to impress me. . . . But I will not--oh come on with your lightning again!--admit that sincerity is the only thing." (From "Words, Words, Words")

  • "Mr. [Tiffany] Thayer's latest work is called, with that simplicity which is the gaudiest flower of pretentiousness, An American Girl. I am at a loss to comprehend why this was the selected title, since the book displays any number of American girls, all alike in seeming to be, as Henry James said of George Sand, highly accessible." (From "Not Even Funny")

Well, this should be enough to get anyone started, I think.

*Quotes from The Portable Dorothy Parker, Penguin Books, 1973

12 comments:

Alianore said...

I was somewhat perturbed to read that so-called 'review' on Amazon. I have no idea who the reviewer is, but if she's reading this, let me state emphatically that I am not Susan. We live thousands of miles apart and we've never even met. (If we had, I doubt Susan would have made that comment about me being 'much better-looking'. :)

We do have an interest in Edward II in common - my interest is what led me to read Susan's novel in the first place, then I was lucky enough to run into her online, frequenting the same forums and blogs as me. I gave her novel a 5-star review because I genuinely loved it. No other reason. And I'm very far from being the only one.

Of course, life would be very boring if we all liked the same things, so if the reviewer disliked the novel, I can't criticise her for that. I would suggest, however, that the next time she reviews a book on Amazon, she actually writes something about the damn book.

Susan Higginbotham said...

Thanks, Alianor!

The "review" has disappeared off Amazon. If it were an actual review, I'd have taken my lumps and stayed silent, because anyone who publishes a novel has to take the bad reviews with the good. But making false statements of fact is another thing altogether.

And if I were you, I sure as heck wouldn't be in the hot southeastern USA at the moment!

Alianore said...

In fact, I wish I was...it's freezing here at the moment - only about 14-16 degrees (around 60 degrees F.) Pretty awful for June! :( We haven't even had spring yet, never mind summer.

Alianore said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alianore said...

Sorry, that last comment posted twice!

Susan Higginbotham said...

95 degrees here the other day. Yuk. Good only if you're by the beach.

Wen said...

A bucketful of apologies for what to me was most not obviously an error...All of Alianore's reviews seem to focus on Edward II and are poorly rated and knocked and the added malice of a dastardly (Oooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhh)reviewed Elizabeth Chadwick novel, also by Alianore, who is certainly and respectfully entitled to her opinions...after *all* poorly disguised dodgy remarks, now mysteriously disappeared (as I'm sure this will be too) from this blog about Ms. Chadwick seemed might coincidental not to have been written by the same person. Seems I was wrong. Two people of the same opinion is all.
You well know, my name was right there near my review/comment.

Please forgive typo...but am glad to have supplied the giggle.

BTW-- Loved *your* review on the book *you* didn't read -- STEPHEN AND THE SLEEPING SAINTS. That supplied me with my giggle. Well done.

Wen said...

Let me take my knocks and just outright apologize for being in a no excuse mood and tossing it here...unacceptable! Feel free to take this out of the comment area and use it directly in your blog with my name as I think a more public apology is deserving.

Excepting any comments about Ms. Chadwick...trust me, if it had been S.K Penman, Brian Wainwright or a few others I'd likely have been running off at the mouth too.

Susan Higginbotham said...

Thank you, Wen. My own mouth often runs off, I'm afraid.

I've read all of Penman's novels, except for her mysteries, and both of Brian Wainwright's, and I've enjoyed them thoroughly. As for Elizabeth Chadwick, I've read only one of her novels, but when The Greatest Knight reaches the US, I'll certainly give it a try. She's visited this blog a couple of times, and I'm always glad to have her stop by. Feel free to keep visiting here!

Wen said...

Your kindness is undeserving.
I'm lower than scum on a lake...and I'm attempting to think of the name of the movie where the dialogue continues...No, you're lower than the scum on the lake, you're the scum, on the amebeas(sp?), on the mud of the floor of the lake!!
And I can't spell!
If there actually is spell check on Amazon it would be heaven if I could find it! So, that was deserving also.
Don't you wish they still had public whipping posts for people like me?
Yes, you do. Don't blame you that either!

Susan Higginbotham said...

Nah. I myself can identify too readily with those scenes in "The Honeymooners" when Ralph Kramden, having blundered into saying something he regrets, yells, "Because I have a big mouth!"

Alianore said...

I must get round to ordering Brian Wainwright's 'Adventures of Alianore Audley'. I thought 'Within the Fetterlock' was one of the best historical novels I've ever read, though I know 'Alianore' (good name! ;) is very different in style.

Penman's 'When Christ and his saints slept' is currently on my TBR list, and I've enjoyed the novels of hers I've already read.

I don't know the name of the film with 'I'm lower than scum...' but it sounds funny! I've never seen spel czech on Amazon, I don't think. Once, I nearly sent a review into cyberspace having left the 'o' out of 'count' - fortunately I spotted it in time! :)