Snark vs. Humor vs. Responsibility

Back from vacation, rested, if a bit whiney, pining over the missing turquoise water and perfect weather, exotic birds and fascinating sites. Sigh. Anyway, fortunately rested, because I came back to a review that was…well, I’m still trying to figure out what it was. It’s for the Biggest Kahuna, and it’s on one of those blogs were readers get a lot of ego bang for the buck writing their opinions on all things romance. (Not like here, um…). I’m not going to point you to it, because I’m not sure I want to feed the belly of the beast. Funny, good writing, sort of, poor woman’s imitation of “smart bitches”. Gave the book a C+, which maybe is what I’d give it. She didn’t like the heroine. She thought the premise was stupid. That’s fine, honestly. My beef: inaccuracies for the sake of humor. My hero isn’t a near-rapist, does not “force” my heroine to satisfy him without reciprocity. Couples couple in different ways throughout a courtship, and I’d certainly get bored if the formula was always “she does this to him, he does that to her, and then they do it.” The reviewer was given the book (I buy books to review–and I will get to yours, I promise).

So, my question to writers, readers, reviewers: Where do you draw the line? Honesty is good–if all we get are gushing reviews from all the usual suspects, we’ll never learn, the readers don’t get a sense of what to buy (if they read the reviews at all) because everything is great, all the time. But in my opinion, it is really very easy to trash any book and make your trashing pretty funny. When are you serving yourself and not your readers? Once again, I’m struck by how popular it has become to be as sarcastic as possible. I get a good laugh from some of these sites, don’t get me wrong. I even laughed at my own review. But on the flip side, I think it’s extremely important not to mislead readers with inaccuracies for the sake of being told you’re clever. What do you think?

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4 thoughts on “Snark vs. Humor vs. Responsibility

  1. Nonny says:

    Well, I think it has to be kept in mind that readers will read different things into a story. I know I’ve read books before that I loved, yet someone else ranted about the way the hero/ine acted — and I was totally confused how she got that. And vice versa.

    So, IMO, it’s more likely something the reader didn’t “get” or else read too much into instead of being inaccurate for humor’s sake.

  2. Moreen Clarke says:

    While I appreciate the reviews from friends – who always says “I loved it.” I like to get the honest opinion of those who don’t know me personally. When those are good reviews I know I hit my mark.
    For my first book In Search of Good Men, I gave away review copies and when I checked back with a online group who promised reviews within a certain time frame and also promised they would let me know first if the review was not going to be too good. It seems they were a bit peeved that I had the temerity to follow-up on the review and a week after my email to them they posted a very ‘unkind’ review on Amazon.com without the prenotification they advertise. It was clear from the comments that the reviewer ‘didn’t get it’. I took it with the usual grain of salt.

    What does annoy me though are online book clubs and review groups who request free copies for review purposes and then never post a review. I’ve experienced this a lot with my latest release.

  3. Myrddred says:

    I read a review of an old movie (although not a classic) that I’d always intended to see on TV and the reviewer said: “The love scene is far more violent than it should be…” [paraphrased]

    So I found myself warned.

    Well, guess what? It was not a violent scene at all, but classic alpha male/alpha female in the finest of romance genre traditions.

    She said and I quote: “Not with you…” And they promptly attacked each other. I realize that in the strictest “no means no” connotation where the reviewer was coming from, but I also saw what most of us see in romance literature.

    I offer you an opinion you can take or leave as you will: “To snark is the direct byproduct of Reality TV.”
    Showy drama is always superior to substance where the rating are concerned.

    Chuck

  4. Rene Lyons says:

    I think honesty about an opinion of a book is great. I even think snark is funny — when done well. I think being nasty in a pitiful attempt to snark is pathetic. If you can’t do it right don’t do it at all.

    I’m of the mind that you can’t please all of the people all of the time. There will be people who love your work and there will be people who hate it. It’s that simple. But I think people need to start remembering that being nasty for nasty’s sake is well — nasty. 😉

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