Thursday, January 25, 2007

Should have checked the stable door, for the name of the sire and dam

You are probably well aware that for the price of a low end computer, you can get your crappy book published. Actually getting people to purchase your unpublishable-in-the-normal-market swill has gotten a little easier, now that an Amazon subsidiary is selling professional reviews. Cheekily, the review shows up in the Editorial section as says " As reviewed by New York Times best-selling author Ellen Tanner Marsh." Now, if you read that quickly you might read it as "As reviewed IN..." Oh the effrontery. At the end of the day, you can look at that suck ass book, and say, that is probably a suck ass book no matter what that review says. But they just might trick you too.

Another reason to take the Amazon reviews with a can of Morton's is the fact that many reviewers on Amazon have TERRIBLE taste. Often this is obvious, but you can run into danger when your taste overlaps with such folk. For example, I've quite enjoyed the cosmic horror of HP Lovecraft. I'm not alone, French author Michel Houellebecq wrote a paean to Lovecraft's work and Lovecraft was recently inducted into the Library of America.

So whenever I see a reference that some author is "Lovecraftian," my interest is piqued. More often than not, my hopes are dashed upon the rocks of the reality of horror fiction. It sucks. All of it sucks. I need to paste this above my computer screen when I run into books like this, which the happy reviewers give five stars and say is "Lovecraftian." By checking the "read all my reviews" link I can see what other books they like. People who these modern Lovecraft rip-offs like John Shirley's Demons, which is easily the worst book I started in the 21st century.

It is challenging to capture the badness of Demons. For one, the writing would get a C in a 10th grade English class. Not only does it fall for the violence=frightening fallacy, but it also turgid with false import. You see, John Shirley, not only wants to scare us, he wants to tell us that it is human society that it evil, not these demons. Oh, say it isn't so, Mr. Shirley! Fill it with characters thinner than a ceramic blade and as real as your chances of winning the lottery and you have the worst of all worlds, schlock that thinks it is literature.

So friends, always check the other reviews, lest you purchase something on the word of someone who thinks that Danzig is profound.


Brack said...

James Blish's Black Easter trilogy (or Devil's Day or whatever) was a notable exception to your rule of suckiness. Or so I thought in 11th grade when I read it.

Tripp said...

There are exceptions. They just represent such a small segment of the overall population that they may as well not exist.

Anonymous said...

t, what about "Come back and bite my face" or "YOU...your head's on a big beefsteak!" do you not consider profound?

Tripp said...

Scholars of Danzigiana are split on the question. Some note his frequent allusions to ancient mythology and his wry humor. At least one noted student has pointed out that Danzig is modeling himself after the Romantic poets of the early 19th century, as they try to reach back to a pre-Christian, Dionysian era.

Others see his oeuvre as deconstruction of the idea of "horror" in America. His exploration of the Other in the form of Satanic forces turns the mirror on the listener and forces deep self-examination.