Monday, February 9, 2015

You Will Never Be My Friend (Request)

I get a lot of random Friend Requests on Goodreads. I'm a Librarian, and I have a few lightning rod reviews, so people find me. Generally I'll accept because I love reading reviews from new perspectives, or of niches of prose that I'm not exposed to. I've got friends who gobble classics, manga, memoir, and Epic Fantasy, helping point me to what I might have missed, or challenge my own prejudices.

Sometimes, though, I cross someone like the guy who friended me last week. His name is withheld because he's got enough anger in his life.
Right around when I accepted, he posted a tirade review against Stephen King's The Stand. I love The Stand; it's a landmark achievement in Epic Urban Fantasy. "M-O-O-N" is a reference I keep going back to, and the uncut edition's epilogue is intensely unnerving. This fellow hated the pacing, the unbelievable plot elements, and mostly, the act of being alive while reading it. It was unfortunate in its bile and lacking the perspective-challenging insight that I need out of a negative review. Still, not a sin.
Then he posted a review ripping apart Andy Weir's The Martian. I'd just read that, too, and was curious for his dissent, but more than half his review was quoting people who'd liked it and questioning how they could have read the same book. His argument that "funny isn't a personality" deeply bothered me, as I found the narrator's humor incredibly refreshing (I've slightly misquoted so he can't be google-stalked).
Yesterday he posted a 1-star review of Hamlet
Now look: Hamlet is the only Shakespeare I unequivocally enjoy. I dislike plenty of popular and important works. You can't be a writer without having taste clash.

But to have hated The Stand, The Martian, and Hamlet all in such a short period of time was alarming. That's a wide range of promising fiction to hate.
When I checked his profile, I found he hadn't given any books more than two stars so far this year. My knee-jerk response was to worry he had some psychological problems.

Then I saw he'd self-published two books of his own. He was an author on Goodreads there, at least in part, to promote his own work.
Sometimes, unfriending is the kindest recourse.

12 comments:

  1. I left Goodread and I somehow miss your reviews John, but I an't coming back *_^

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did something drive you off? I've had some nasty comments over the years, but generally find it a positive space for reading.

      Delete
  2. He's an author who enjoys dissing on other books? Not good. I'd walk away as well.

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    Replies
    1. It's a terrible trait for an author. I know some build an audience through bile, but it never works on me.

      Delete
  3. Ugh. I don't blame you for unfriending him. I understand being critical, but that just seems weird. For a moment, I thought he was looking at your list and bashing all the books you liked because of some vendetta against you.

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    Replies
    1. Haha, that would be terrible! Thankfully the worst I've had is someone who was mad over my dislike of 1984 finding my blog and trying to derail comments on a bunch of posts. He went away after a day.

      Well, I guess the worst I've gotten was a death threat, also over my tiny 1984 review. But I didn't believe it and disregarded.

      Delete
  4. That's too much, hating those three, especially "Hamlet." I mean, really... Best to cross him off and lower your blood pressure.

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  5. What a sad man. I wonder how many stars he would give his own work... And whether anyone else agrees with him.

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  6. So he was trying to elicit pushback from others simply to garner some notoriety? It sounds like he's taking cues from a lot of modern television programming. :)

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    Replies
    1. No kidding! Hate-baiting is the new black.

      Delete
  7. He dislikes Hamlet? Unbelievable - he's obviously not worth bothering with!
    We don't need toxic people in our lives; for many years I worked with someone who wlked around emanating a miasma of bitterness, anger and negativity. No matter how you tried to help/cheer/make allowances for her, she would respond with black statements and criticisms about - well, everything.
    You did the right thing, John!

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  8. Wow. Trashing Shakespeare when you're an author yourself -- that's just so clichéd!

    I'm not a Hamlet fan myself (I like Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead better, and my fav tragedy by WS is King Lear), but it just seems the height of arrogance to trash Shakespeare and a contemporary canon author like King and a recent popular book in a short space of time.

    My American Moderns prof told my class: "Go for the authors you like. Celebrate them. Justify them." That's my favourite kind of critique/review, seconded by what I think of as an "Ebert", where maybe the book want your own cup of tea, but you try to review it so those who would like it will recognise it as such. Negative reviews are mostly for books which are overrated -- but you better justify your stance.

    I like Goodreads, but so far I've managed to avoid most of the nastiness. What always boggles new are the people who write nasty reviews, and then have a dozen people cheering them on.

    ReplyDelete

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