April 15, 2011
When I was young books were paperbacks. I knew of hardcovers of course, but I rarely ever read a book in hardcover. I thumbed through cheaply produced light-weight volumes that would split at the seams by the time I’d gotten to the final chapters. That was fine by me. I wasn’t a collector of objects. I was a collector of stories and I shelved them in my mind.
Many of the paperbacks I read were published under the Yearling imprint. According to their web site Yearling has published beloved authors such as “Judy Blume, Christopher Paul Curtis, Patricia Reilly Giff, Norton Juster, Madeleine L’Engle, Lois Lowry, Gary Paulsen, Philip Pullman, Louis Sachar and classic characters such as Encyclopedia Brown, Harriet the Spy, Nate the Great, and Sammy Keyes.”
It’s during moments like these when a fellow has to ground himself. Heck, I’m no Judy Blume. I’m not even Judy Tenuta! (If there’s a single kid out there who knows who Judy Tenuta is, I salute you, and fear for you). I’ve written a couple of books and they’ve had very little effect on the global economy. Believe it or not I’ve even fallen victim some negative reviews. Some authors say they don’t pay attention to reviews (some authors are liars). I pay attention to reviews because they often contain helpful advice. Especially the negative ones, even if they’re draped in snark.
That’s not to say there aren’t negative reviews that are basically useless. I did receive one review that featured no redeeming qualities whatsoever. It was sent to me in a box containing a collage of photographs depicting the reviewers showing their disdain for DWEEB, along with the warm corpse of an ivory-billed woodpecker. The review was so cruel that I had to be put on bed-rest for a fortnight after reading it. I contemplated burning it, but now that I have some perspective, I know it’s better to just get such things out in the open. Yes, to keep me humble, but also to remind me that no matter what I do, not everyone will be a fan. Nor should everyone be. So, without further ado, the worst review I have ever received.
Dear author of DWEEB,
We use the word “author” loosely. We have seen vomit better crafted than this alleged novel. The word novel comes from the Latin “novus,” which translates as “new.” Well, the book was certainly new, but only because we couldn’t find it at a used book store. We doubt anyone else has bought such derivitive dreck. Perhaps the CIA has. They probably read it down at Gitmo, causing the inmates to holler, “I’ll tell you anything! The cave where Osama is hiding! The meaning of Mulholland Drive! Just stop reading! You can even put the Creed CD back on. That’s heaven compared to this!”
We would love to list all the reasons why we hated this book, but it would be like listing all the reasons why we think Hitler would make a terrible babysitter. It would take eons. That’s right, it’s only paragraph two of our review and we’ve already compared you to Hitler. It’s actually the closest thing to a compliment we’re going to give you. Heck, at least Mein Kampf earned back its advance.
After reading your book we considered bringing in a priest to exorcise the blasphemous trash. Obviously the pages are simply lousy with demons. The pope suggested we lock it in a trunk filled with holy water, rosaries and the shroud of Turin, and bury it fifty feet deep beneath the Sistine Chapel. “Torch it and throw in the Ganges,” others told us. Nerds advised us to call in Elijah Wood and have the shameless little imp toss it into Krakatoa. But we figured those courses of action had the potential to set off chain reactions, causing blessed springs and powerful volcanos around the world to spew forth mixed metaphors, paper-thin protagonists and overwrought third acts.
We thought the best option was to set out into the southern swamps and hunt down the elusive ivory-billed woodpecker. For years, people thought this beautiful and majestic bird was extinct. Well, it wasn’t. At least, not until Tuesday. We found the last one and we broke its neck. Why would we do such a thing?
1. To prove that your writing is responsible for the extinction of a species.
2. To put the poor little guy out of his misery. When we read that bird the first chapter of your book, he promptly flew into a tree and pecked out a short message in morse code. “Goodbye Cruel World. You Have Finally Bested Me.”
The evidence is enclosed. We hope it makes you rethink your dastardly ways. However, we suspect it will just turn your black, black blood and your black, black heart even blacker. So we will keep our copy of your book and we will take to the streets with it. We will speak at schools and libraries and community centers and religious monuments and we will warn the world about your soullessness. And when Kirkus reviews your next book, we will send them a picture of that woodpecker and a petition signed by millions proclaiming:
Aaron Starmer Must Be Stopped.
Your nephews Will and Jacob