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Saturday, 31 March 2007

The Dead Horse Who is Actually Alive

WARNING: If you are sick and tired of reading blog posts covering the topic of the argument surrounding the level of snark present in some reviews, DO NOT READ ON. You will only succeed in pissing yourself off even more.

If you've been around blogland these past couple of days you'd know there has been a lively debate taking place about the level of snarkiness in some reviews. I posted my feelings on the issue at Alison Kent's blog on Wednesday. The basic point of the post (to save you from trawling through it) was that I have a difficult time understanding why reviewers are sometimes so bitchy about a book. I was so amazed how many people weighed in with their opinions. It was great! And so many of them made points which actually made me think again.
For example, Robin said this:

'But is that even the point — assuming you can *accurately* ascribe a motive to be mean to these bloggers? I mean, if you want to go the intent route, then if I think an author intended to write a book that offended me as a reader, can I then call it “disgusting”? I just think it’s an issue of perspective, as you said. Because your perspective is that certain reviews are over the line, you don’t see your wording of “immoral and disgusting” as aggressive or over the line itself. Because you feel passionately that you are in the right. Just like a reader-reviewer feels passionately disappointed in a book she paid for and spent time reading and feels right in sharing her opinion on that book in language that reflects the passionate righteousness of her own response. '


'Which is probably when a lot of those reviews are written, too. I know that when I just finish a book that pisses me off, it’s pretty red hot for a while. It takes a good while to get to a point where I can even articulate my responses without a lot of sputtering and cursing and elaborate hand gestures.'

You see this never happened to me. I have never been so let own by a book that I got angry. But when it does happen (it has to with the amount of books in my TBR pile) I'll probably feel like that, angry for wasting my time. I'll probably even want to rant about it here. I don't think I will though, because like I said, I don't want to kill an author's spirit.

But then I thought, 'Actually Maria, a really bad review, no matter how bitchy, might not ruin an author's spirit.' This was backed up by something Nora Roberts said(Nora Roberts commented on my post, MY POST!)

'Maria, I appreciate your take on all this, and I’m sure many others do, too. Authors and readers. For myself, harsh reviews may make me wince, then I move on. But I’ve been around a long time, and I’ve had plenty of harsh reviews for a wide variety of sources.'

Wow, Nora Roberts gets bad reviews. And she's still alive (at least I think she is).
So maybe I'm just going to have to grow up a bit, and recognize that some people have thicker skin than I do (seriously, it's like tissue paper)

It was a great, learning experience, and I feel so much better for it.

But.....(there's always a but)....some people weren't quite so willing to listen to my point of view. Instead, they completely misunderstood the point of the post (I'd go as far to say that some of them intended to misunderstand the point of the post just to cause drama).
Because I gave an opinion conflicting theirs, they got pretty antsy about it. Most of what was said had nothing to do with the point of the post. It became Operation Maria, put the girl in a box and don't let her come out. No way did they listen to anything I had to say, that was apparent when I read back over the comments, just to check I hadn't made an ass of myself. Instead, it all got quite personal. I was called quite a few things, accused of hypocrisy, preaching, adocating censorship, thinking my fellow readers are stupid.
I guarantee you none of that is true. Most of it was people twisting my words to suit themselves and actually putting words in my mouth. And they tried to make it all seem funny, that they were amused by my childish ways, but you could sense the agitation in what they wrote. They were bleeding stones in an effort to shut me up. It was bizarre. What I found most bizarre was that these people are the very ones who shout their opinions to the world, no matter how outlandish or politically incorrect. They preach about free speech but if you dare disagree with them, you're in trouble.
I guess they're insecure in some way, maybe their parents ignored them while they were growing up, maybe they were bullied at school, I don't know.

1.I wasn't preaching, I was giving my opinion.
2.I wasn't trying to change anyone's views, I was looking to understand other people's views.
3.I think readers are incredibly clever (hell, I am a reader.) It takes a lot of cleverness to write some of the bitchy reviews, well most of them anyway:)
4.Not an any point did I want to silence anyone, I only wanted to understand why people were so extreme when slating a book (and Robin gave me a great insight into that)

I do not believe this is kicking a dead horse. How can the horse be dead when everyone gets so riled up over it, and everyone has an opinion. And I do think the debate over at Alison's gave us who participated, a deeper insight into the issue, for me anyway.

But as interesting as all this was, it was sad too. My respect for some people lowered dramatically, I saw them in a light my rose-tinted glasses didn't want to see.
But there you go, c'est la vie.

Sorry for being a pest, but I had to get this straight. I'm weird like that, it's all to do with suppressed anger.

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Tori Lennox said...

*hugs* sweetie. Some people are just plain rude. Ignore them if you can.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Gang Mentality, these bloggers.

Tara Marie said...

Maria, I think I come at this subject a little differently 1. I'm twice + your age and 2. I've been around romance message boards and blogs for years.

As you already know I'm "the horse is dead" person, because these discussions go on every few months, usually brought up by someone rather new to the various message boards, blogs and review sites.

The snarkier websites aren't for everyone. I visit and enjoy most of what I read, but that doesn't mean I can read everything they write without cringing or thinking "OMG I can't believe she just said that..."

I think on some level Robin is right, there's a frustration level that some people reach more easily and they're more vocal and simply more sarcastic in general. I'm a sarcastic soul with a side of "if you don't have anything nice to say..." so I have a tendency to balance out. But not everyone's like that.

There's also a certain frustration level that flows between authors and reader/bloggers. They're very vocal at these types of sites, enjoying the snark until they're in the cross hairs and then they're shocked and they're feelings are hurt because they considered those reader/bloggers "friends". It doesn't work that way.

And that's why I advise not to read the posts that upset your or make you cringe.

In three or four months, you'll still think the way you do or maybe come to understand the snarkier folks and someone newer to the system will be asking the same questions you've been.

Like I said in my post "round and round we go."

Anonymous said...

Blogs haven't been around for years. Message boards, yes. The only snarky reviewer years ago was Mrs. Giggles and she was so clever and gifted in her humor, even the mean reviews weren't all that bad. What is out there now are reviewers trying to be clever, funny and intelligent. Sadly, many come off as just mean and it is clear they don't have much of a sense of humor. They do have a following though wiht lots of friends to pat them on the back and laugh with them. Smart Bitches have an intelligent humor going for them, but the others are just haters. Mean girls. I think they probably shouldn't quit their day job. If they have already, good luck with that.

Portia Da Costa said...

Hi Maria

I've been so wrapped up in myself and my book stuff this last few days that I missed all this!

So sorry that this topic of snarky reviews has blown up again... and you've been hit by the flak.

I'm all for free speech, and expressing yourself, but as Tara Marie recommends, I've learnt to stay away from some sites, because the tone just isn't a good fit for me. I'm in my fifties and I hail from that era of 'if you don't have anything nice to say'... so the harder edged reviewing sometimes makes me a bit uncomfortable.

Anyway, I certainly enjoy your opinions and your reviews so you just take care out there, won't you?



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