I should really put review quotes up on this website. I’ve seen other author’s websites, and you can’t move for the stuff. ‘Poignant… moving… I was gripped by every page…’ or perhaps ‘Funny, insightful, a delicate reflection on the human spirit embodied through kung fu…’ would be the kind of stuff you expect. (I hasten to add, before someone shouts at me, that any resemblance to quotes living or dead is purely accidental here.)
As it is, turns out I get lots of really nice reviews, which makes me really happy. But, and here’s the problem with putting it on my website: I tend to try not to read them. Or rather… if my publisher sends me, as sometimes they do, reviews of my work with a note attached saying ‘everyone loves it, go figure!’, or indeed as my favourite editorial assistant sometimes does, a note that reads simply ‘MOAR!!’ … then of course I read them, and spend a large part of the following day walking round the house beaming with delight.
However, I never actively look for them off my own initiative, because for every five reviews you get going ‘a triumph of fiction, Kate Griffin should crown herself queen of a small yet pleasantly endowed tropical country!’ – at least that’s how I like to interpret it – there’s always one which says, ‘I really enjoyed this book, but took minor issues with the use of a comma on page 245′. And that’s it. In that single sentence, your mood is ruined. A comma on page 245? How did this happen? How could anyone mis-interpret that comma? Have other people also noticed it, is it going to ruin the book? Why can’t people see that this specific comma is not only a brilliant comma, the greatest comma, in fact, of the entire novel, but is also the comma that you put your heart and soul into, the comma of commas in whose few delicate pixels is captured the emotional truth of your soul?!
Have I mentioned, that as an author, it’s easy to go mad?
I have other problems with putting reviews up on this blog, though I gotta admit, the one above is probably the most practical. I’m not a huge fan of blowing my own trumpet. I mean, of course I am – everyone in the world is, to some degree or another, of course I’m a massive fan of blowing my own trumpet, it’s just that… I dunno… putting up quotes from people saying ‘this is awesome’ seems like… a bit much? It’s a strange neurosis to suffer from, but suffer from it I do, and I hope, therefore, that my publishers save me this problem by doing that particular bit of legwork for me. I suspect it’s an extension of this mentality which means I never, ever google myself. My friends google me instead, and then phone up to a) update me on who I am and what I’m doing with my life and b) to laugh, and frankly I think this is probably quite a healthy way to handle things.
Finally, I know how easy it is to pick away at the best bit of a review for your own nefarious purposes, and I dunno, this just kinda upsets the historian in me. ‘Kate Griffin’s book was a triumph of turgid prose, a true whirlwind of awfulness; it left me, and my wife, weeping on the floor with despair…’ could, with only a few ellipses become: ‘Kate Griffin… triumph… a whirlwind… it left me and my wife weeping…’ I believe (I hope) that there are some rules against this but then again, it’s not the easiest thing to enforce. Besides, at the end of the day, there’s no such thing as the perfect book. I like my books, but that’s because they’re my cuppa tea; they are not right for some of my mates, or some of my family, because they’re simply not something they’d enjoy. It’s why it’s so ridiculous when authors get upset over a dodgy review, and indeed, it’s arguably an issue which has to be addressed by any critics who spend their days writing blistering reviews without the universal caveat of ‘if you like this, you might like that, even though I thought it was a pile of steaming elephant manure.’ At the end of the day, and once again, the rule seems to be… reviews? Be cool. You kids… you just be cool….