Merlin Conspiracy Review

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Tue Jun 17 04:54:29 EDT 2003


Deborah wrote:

>|I never invented a murder in a book I was reviewing.  I don't think that
>|comes into the category 'fine-tuning', I'd call it simply inaccuracy.
>Well, there are definitely some flaws in the review.  I was just
>defending the review from other charges.  ;)

Fair does!  Two things bounced out and bit me, and I felt both were
important; the other stuff I blatted was incidental, pretty-much.  General
peeve, at that point.

>Short reviews aren't
>perfect; they aren't meant to be.  They're to convince people either to
>buy or not buy the book, and as long as they neither misrepresent
>anything important, nor condemn or praise in a judgement that's
>fundamentally based on the inaccuracies, they have a little slop.

Again, fairy nuff.  But I think by mentioning love-interest that isn't
really there, and then complaining that it isn't dealt with at the end to
provide emotional closure, this one did push it a little.

(Being fair, Nick does say she's his "ideal".  That's before she speaks to
him, I think...)

>I do
>some reviews for free, others for $30/book.  I already spend over an
>hour angsting over each review, not counting reading time.  I might make
>mistakes from time to time, and I'm okay with that.

It's impossible not to, surely?  But there's mistakes, and then there's
mistakes.  This went too far towards the second kind for me, was all.

>(But if I ever
>judge a book harshly, I make damn sure I have the facts I'm condemning
>accurately.)

That's a combination of honesty and honour.  I truthfully don't see how you
could act otherwise, therefore....  Mistakes is one thing, malice is
something else again.

>Which isn't to say that you shouldn't point out flaws in the review; of
>course you should!  I'm in knee-jerk-denfense-of-the-underpaid-reviewer
>mode, here.  Flawed review != malicious or lazy reviewer.  Not that you
>said it did, but ... like I said.  Knee-jerk defense.

Ah.  yes.  I get crosser with people who mess up in my trades than I do
with people who mess up in areas about which I am ignorant.  As it were.  I
think the reviewer trick I find least possible to forgive is the one in
which a review starts "I was unable to finish this book".  Well, lady (or
sir), in that case you shouldn't be writing about it: hand it on to someone
who *could* read it!  And the worst nightmare is being asked to review a
book by someone you like as a person, but you hate the book...  It seems
cowardly (and cheating the potential reader/buyer) not to say why you
didn't like it, but even so...

>I asked for Merlin Conspiracy but it had already been promised out.  So
>I'm glad I didn't get it, or I might have been the target.  ;)

Seems unlikely.  I wasn't complaining about a different viewpoint being
presented, I was complaining about factual inaccuracy, after all!

>|It's a funny length,
>|actually, word-count 273; does the count include the headers and they bring
>|it up to 300, or were there other books within the same review (as it
>|were)?
>My maximum drop-dead count right now is 175.  I can see HB decreeing 275
>for certain books.

Not one I met.  In fact, what generally seemed to happen was I got handed
six books and a length to do as many of them as I could fit.  That allows a
bit more scope for giving more space to the complicated ones, and skimping
slightly on the rote-fant.  ("People who already know and like the XYZ
books by ABC will enjoy this continuation of the 43-book trilogy, in which
Our Hero encounters a gremlin, three furbelows and a different girl --  a
*very* different girl...  New readers are advised to start with number 17
in the series, or earlier...")

>|Actually, I ought not to have been rude about
>|the lady whose name is on the review, it may not have been her fault.
>True.  I've had some terrible wrongs committed on reviews I've written.
>Not least changing "a compelling choice" to "a must" as a review
>finisher for a book I most certainly did *not* consider a must.  Luckily
>that journal doesn't put out names on reviews.

Aaaargh!  Even not getting the blame in public doesn't make up for such a thing.

Something lingering with boiling oil in it, I fancy, is appropriate for
that offence.

Minnow


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