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Critiquing the Critics

criticsThe best quip about critics I ever read was from a long-dead author whose name escapes me. “They expect that you won’t hit them!”

My sentiments exactly.

My beef isn’t with literary critics at major publications – even if they don’t give your novel a big wet kiss they always have something valid to say. But a relatively obscure author like myself doesn’t get reviewed by the pros very often.

My novels are more likely to get a going-over by readers on Amazon and various literary sites. Most of those reviews are positive and encouraging, but they’re not the ones you remember.

The Proxy Assassin is a totally pulpy throwback with over the top dialogue. But you know what? I still enjoyed it.

Well thank you, dear critic, for descending from your Olympian perch to muddy your lily white vestments with the likes of me.

And there’s a more insidious variation. A reviewer who raves on and on about your book until he administers a quick stab in the back that is so deft you barely feel it. At first. An online magazine’s review of A Pure Double Cross was going along swimmingly until the critic opined that, “This is hilarious stuff. Sometimes unintentionally so.”

Unintentionally. My writing is unintentionally hilarious? A critic I have never met knows what I intended to make hilarious?!

Then there are reviews that make no sense whatsoever and, while you generally want a five-star rating, in such cases you’re not so sure.

John Knoerle has a very witty sense of humor using analogies like that of a dancing bears final act as the hunters circle the bear for the kill. The main character Hal Schroeder is a foreign interloper or is he that of a stand-up spy remains to be determined.

(There are no mentions of dancing bears in the book.)

But enough of this grousing. Every once in a great while you are rewarded with a gem, from a reader who seems to understand what you were hoping to achieve. This quote is from an online review of The Proxy Assassin by a woman I don’t know.

Right from the start of the story, I realized I could not or should not put the Kindle down, as my fingers kept on sliding the pages. This author uses almost a magical writing style, which is very concise, and at the same time fascinating and motivating. Going from page to page was a pleasure as I was very curious to find out what would happen next.

Bless you dear lady. You made my day.

Published inhard boiled fiction

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