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Book Review Commentary Goes Awry (read: Entertaining)
March 29, 2011 7:44 AM   Subscribe

An author takes exception to a review of her book & comments on the reviewer's site. What could possibly go wrong?
posted by PepperMax (195 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Your the target not me!"
Said the author complaining to a reviewer about the reviewer's complaint that her grammar was crap. If only every crappy argument so clearly contained its own rebuttal.
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 7:48 AM on March 29, 2011 [35 favorites]


She violated a primary rule of online reviewing: never mix it up with commenters using your actual identity. If you're going to dispute customer reviews on Amazon or something, get your friends (or your "friends" that are actually you) to leave wonderful reviews that refute negative reviews in an allusive way. Directly squaring off with the rabble will never end well.

But, her book seemed like one of those mushy pseudo-historical novels being cranked out nowadays that are worth much less than a dime a dozen.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:53 AM on March 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


The most damning bit of evidence of Howett's incompetence to emerge from that thread was her own description of the book on Amazon. If anything you would think that a two-paragraph product blurb that represents your product would be highly refined and free of clumsy language, but you'd be horribly wrong in this case.
posted by Rhomboid at 7:54 AM on March 29, 2011


"You are a big rat and a snake with poisenous [sic] venom"

I'll go with the commenter who said that "This is definitely a master class on how to burn bridges in the publishing industry."
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:54 AM on March 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


5 stars! The Greek Seamen left a lump in my throat!
posted by Wolfdog at 7:55 AM on March 29, 2011 [101 favorites]


The Greek Seaman?

*giggle* she said seaman...
posted by chavenet at 7:56 AM on March 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Maybe its just my style and being English is what you don't get.

Yeah? Well maybe Big Al finds The Greek Seaman hard to swallow.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:57 AM on March 29, 2011 [19 favorites]


Wolfdog wins all internet threads about this.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:57 AM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hey, it's that exact same blend of self-righteousness and utter cluelessness from the Cooks Source brouhaha. Mm good!
posted by theodolite at 7:59 AM on March 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, this comment and the one following are rather good ones.
posted by Wolfdog at 8:00 AM on March 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


I suspect there are lots of thin-skinned authors, however, running across lines like "Don and Katy watched hypnotically Gino place more coffees out at another table with supreme balance." turned me off faster than any whining in the comment section of a blog.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:01 AM on March 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


Maybe Hypnotically Gino is the big musical number, like Suddenly Seymour.
posted by Wolfdog at 8:04 AM on March 29, 2011 [24 favorites]


So this is a self-published novel, or Kindle'd Word document, according to the thread. It's interesting to read through the comments, though I doubt the author would ever be accused of having a chance of being published by any professional company.
posted by xingcat at 8:04 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not in the mood for playing snake with you,

Well, that's good. I'm not sure I'd want to play snake with the author of The Greek Seaman either.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:05 AM on March 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


This is a lot like what Alice Hoffman did when Roberta Silman gave her book a bad review.
posted by reenum at 8:05 AM on March 29, 2011


This is where the collapse of traditional book publishing and the rise of eBooks has taken us.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:06 AM on March 29, 2011 [8 favorites]


This book is like a submarine: long, hard, and filled with provisions and fuel and capable of operating autonomously for months at a time.
posted by zippy at 8:09 AM on March 29, 2011 [17 favorites]


What an idiot.

I have a (sadly neglected) book review site, and I've been so pleased with some of the authors' responses to my reviews of their books. I've gotten emails thanking me for my "thoughtful" or "insightful" reviews, and authors have linked to my review from their own site. And it's not like my reviews didn't make criticisms of their work, either. But then I mostly just review very worthwhile books, which not surprisingly usually come from the keyboards of writers who are worthwhile human beings.
posted by orange swan at 8:09 AM on March 29, 2011


"You are a big rat and a snake."

I hate to out myself as the person who knows this, but you have my word that I truly believe it: she is borrowing her insults from tribal councils on Survivor.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 8:10 AM on March 29, 2011 [24 favorites]


She violated a primary rule of online reviewing: never mix it up with commenters using your actual identity.

The Metafilter principle of never participating in your own FPP works pretty well too.
posted by three blind mice at 8:12 AM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


The crazy thing is that this is a good review other than the comments on grammar. If she had just said "Thank you for the review. Readers should know that the reviewer had an early copy of the novel, and that the one now available has had grammar, spelling, and formatting issues corrected." Then all would have been fine and dandy and she would probably have made a bunch of sales from the review.

But no. Instead, she has a meltdown and self-destructs.
posted by eye of newt at 8:12 AM on March 29, 2011 [32 favorites]


This is where the collapse of traditional book publishing and the rise of eBooks has taken us.

Ann Rice, who is published by traditional book publishers and a bestseller, threw a tantrum on Amazon.com when she got scathing reader reviews there. I don't believe the means of production matters. "Writers" who can't write worth a damn and don't know it and still think their work is worthy of being published always act out the most when they get criticized regardless of the means of production used to print their books.
posted by orange swan at 8:13 AM on March 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


"There are too many books, the books are terrible, and this is because you have been taught to have self-esteem." Fran Lebowitz
posted by Omon Ra at 8:17 AM on March 29, 2011 [34 favorites]


If she had just said "Thank you for the review. Readers should know that the reviewer had an early copy of the novel, and that the one now available has had grammar, spelling, and formatting issues corrected."

In order for her to say that would require her to admit that there are grammatical problems in the first place, but she's not even capable of that. She defends "watched hypnotically Gino" as perfectly fine and even posted a video of her reading it to prove that it was fine. All of her initial criticisms about using an outdated version applied only to formatting and not content.
posted by Rhomboid at 8:18 AM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's one review on Amazon that's priceless:

One star only, and that is solely for the cover art - I was impressed, if not entirely surprised, that it featured the story's single interesting character, the mysterious and enigmatic freak man with a female head growing from the small of his back.
posted by ob at 8:18 AM on March 29, 2011 [16 favorites]


14. Do not argue with a troll — it means that they win.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 8:19 AM on March 29, 2011


She violated a primary rule of online reviewing: never mix it up with commenters using your actual identity. Always Be Lee Siegel.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:20 AM on March 29, 2011


I'm not in the mood for playing snake with you,

The mug is already available.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 8:23 AM on March 29, 2011 [29 favorites]


Maybe Hypnotically Gino is the big musical number, like Suddenly Seymour.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:04 AM on March 29


I am totally writing a book called Hypnotically Gyno about Greek seamen who are so entranced by the swaying hips of a plump British ex-pat cafe waitress that they run their ships aground and never make it back to Ithaca.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:24 AM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


From the author's description on her personal site:
What is an eighteen year old doing traveling on a massive merchant ship anyways, hadn't she gone to Greece on tour in a ballet as a dancer?


Beautiful!
posted by iconomy at 8:25 AM on March 29, 2011


Is this real or some sort of performance art? I'm leaning towards the latter.
posted by Dr. Eigenvariable at 8:26 AM on March 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Dear "Big Al" (If that is your real name),

I am honestly a little stunned at this two star review of my greek seamen. All over England and continental Europe, my greek seamen has been praised highly. I suppose you may have gotten a bad version (I had a garlic/asparagus risotto the previous night that I MADE MYSELF), but I think my fans deserve the truth. Here's an excerpt from the Guardian:

"Greg's greek seamen was a thoroughly engaging way to spend an evening. I was pleasantly surprised by the density of it, as well as the unexpected twist at the end. Five stars."

And here, from "CMENLUVR81", on amazon.co.uk:

"Gr3g's greek seamn was the bomb, i lovd it. it was really something specail an i dont know anyone else who has greek seamen this good, it is awesomee! i recomend you go out an pick up this greek seamen right away, peace"

The above was appended to another five-star (yes, FIVE star) review.

I could go on and on, giving hundreds of examples of situations where my greek seamen has satisfied my fans, but what would be the point? It seems you're not actually able to apreciate my greek seamen. Maybe someday, you'll re-evaluate your sad little life, and become more interested in exploring the kind of depth and breadth that my greek seamen allows you to get lost in. Or maybe you'll simply remain a closed-minded Yank.

Good day,
Greg
posted by Greg Nog at 8:26 AM on March 29, 2011 [35 favorites]


No feedback on feedback.

That said, picking on some kindle author without a proofreader or a publicist seems a little mean.
posted by Artw at 8:27 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


15. Do not argue with an overly privileged 50-something self-published author. They are unsubtle and quick to anger.
posted by clvrmnky at 8:29 AM on March 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


the swaying hips of a plump British ex-pat cafe waitress

Dibs on the prequel, Hypnotically Gyro.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:30 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


KokuRyu:

"This is where the collapse of traditional book publishing and the rise of eBooks has taken us."

There are oh so many examples of traditionally published authors losing their shit at reviews that this cannot be laid at the feet at eBooks.

That said:

Artw:

"picking on some kindle author without a proofreader or a publicist seems a little mean."

If you're putting your work out there for the public in any form, and especially if you expect them to pay for it, you should probably learn how to deal with reviews, sooner than later.
posted by jscalzi at 8:31 AM on March 29, 2011 [12 favorites]


The Metafilter principle of never participating in your own FPP works pretty well too.

Don't poop in your own nest.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:31 AM on March 29, 2011


I'm sad that all the seamen jokes have been said already. For that reason alone, I could never take this woman seriously. Also "discusting".
posted by londonmark at 8:33 AM on March 29, 2011


Thud! is the sound one’s head makes as it hits the table.

*Thud!*
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:34 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's also the rampant problem of review inflation for Kindle authors. No matter how bad the offering, there will be several 4 and 5 star ratings.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:35 AM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, it does seem gratuitously cruel to pile on the author for her weird tantrum. But it's completely fair game to make fun of hideously ill-chosen book title, and I'll bet the ranch people would have done so even without the review kerfuffle.

15 of 62 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Seaman Fan!, March 29, 2011
By
Waxed Batman - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Greek Seaman (Kindle Edition)
Well, personally I don't understand all the negative comments here.

When I first approached The Greek Seaman I'll admit I was a bit apprehensive, but soon I was lapping it up! In fact I loved it so much that I polished it off in an evening. Now my mission is to get all my friends to share my taste for The Greek Seaman. I think it's worth paying for! :)

posted by FelliniBlank at 8:36 AM on March 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


I give many 2 and 3 star reviews. You have to blow me away to get a 4 or a 5. People are too easy with their amazon rating systems. Review sluts!
posted by Fizz at 8:36 AM on March 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


picking on some kindle author without a proofreader or a publicist seems a little mean

I get the publicist part but not the proofreader part. If you desire to be a half-way competent author you have to have a minimal grasp of grammar. The errors cited are not small details.

"This is where the collapse of traditional book publishing and the rise of eBooks has taken us."

There are oh so many examples of traditionally published authors losing their shit at reviews that this cannot be laid at the feet at eBooks.


I think the point is that traditional book publishing, generally speaking, has proofreaders and editors who serve as curators.
posted by Omon Ra at 8:36 AM on March 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm sad that all the seamen jokes have been said already.

Whoa now, brother! Don't sell yourself short; there's always room for more Greek Seamen!
posted by Greg Nog at 8:38 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just look at your ball all of you....look at you.

That would be my favorite Howett quote from the thread. It was interesting to note the many self-published, vanity press-published, indie-published authors who were parsing the differences between the terms and defending their own non-publisher-published books.
posted by kozad at 8:39 AM on March 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Apparently she's an accomplished artist as well:
I use to stretch canvass and create giant sized panels in my bathing suit, then jump in the pool after!
posted by Kabanos at 8:40 AM on March 29, 2011


Can we do George Michael jokes now?
posted by ob at 8:40 AM on March 29, 2011


her own description of the book on Amazon.

*thud* *thud* *thud*

I think I'm bleeding from my forehead.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:40 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just look at your ball all of you....look at you.

*looks at balls, Greek seaman*

*suddenly feels utterly ashamed*

posted by Greg Nog at 8:47 AM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


who knew Greece still had room in its budget for a submarine!
posted by fistynuts at 8:50 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


HOLY GOD THERE'S VIDEO
posted by Greg Nog at 8:50 AM on March 29, 2011 [15 favorites]


"Don and Katy watched hypnotically Gino place more coffees out at another table with supreme balance."

This is an open letter to Donald Fagen.

Donald Fagen, I know you're busy with the New York Times/your beloved TV Guide crossword puzzle and probably still spending a coffee-and-Sambuca-flavored moment at Salon or something, but please stop reading for a second and see my plea: Donald Fagen, please do collaborate with Jacqueline Howett on the lyrics for whatever you do next. I have found myself raving and drooling at the prospect of a metaphysical musical spaceship ride with Don, Katy and Hypnotically Gino. Only you and Ms. Howett can pilot this spaceship. Only you can prevent this forest fire. Please help, Donald Fagen.

xoxo,
-m.
posted by mintcake! at 8:51 AM on March 29, 2011 [11 favorites]


picking on some kindle author without a proofreader or a publicist seems a little mean

I get the publicist part but not the proofreader part. If you desire to be a half-way competent author you have to have a minimal grasp of grammar. The errors cited are not small details.


Well, to be honest the person most missed here seems to be an editor to say "No, this is not ready, take it back, work on it more".
posted by Artw at 8:53 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


For the record, here's part of Anne Rice's meltdown in the Amazon reviews of her magnum opus, Blood Canticle (removed from Amazon, but preserved for time immemorial on LiveJournal).

Apropos to this discussion, a lot of the trouble with that book revolved around the fact that Rice (no relation) insisted that it not be edited, and apparently she had enough clout with her publisher to be able make that stick.
posted by adamrice at 8:53 AM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Whoa now, brother! Don't sell yourself short; there's always room for more Greek Seamen!

I stand corrrected :)
posted by londonmark at 8:53 AM on March 29, 2011


...as mentioned later in that comment. heh.
posted by Artw at 8:53 AM on March 29, 2011


Apropos to this discussion, a lot of the trouble with that book revolved around the fact that Rice (no relation) insisted that it not be edited, and apparently she had enough clout with her publisher to be able make that stick.

Maybe we should take some time away from poking fun at unhinged writers and make today EDITORS ARE AWESOME day, because really they don't get enough love.
posted by Artw at 8:55 AM on March 29, 2011 [23 favorites]


I was JUST going to post the Anne Rice response, because that makes this look like cheap vaudeville. Thanks for putting it up, adamrice... but in fact that's all of it.
posted by jscott at 8:57 AM on March 29, 2011


I think I will start using "hypnotically Gino" as a complimentary close on all my letters from now on.
posted by Xoebe at 9:05 AM on March 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Wow. I mean, just, Wow.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:06 AM on March 29, 2011


HOLY GOD THERE'S VIDEO
posted by Greg Nog


Top Comments

fuck off
wormsofthesenses 10 hours ago 46 [Thumbs Up]

If I criticize your book, will you throw a fit in the comments here, too? I'm bored, I could use the entertainment.
Freecell82 11 hours ago 44 [Thumbs Up]
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 9:08 AM on March 29, 2011


The video is hilarious because she can't even read her own book correctly.

I listen to a lot of audiobooks and some readers are just plain reading it wrong. You can imagine the words they said appearing on the page and you know that's not what the author intended. And yet...here is the author, also reading them wrong. SWIRLING MAELSTROM OF CONFUSION
posted by DU at 9:12 AM on March 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Dear god, this woman is comedy gold. She doesn't use punctuation - she fires it from a shot gun...
"The Stonemason, the artist meets, known for his tombstone's, is also semi famous, creating shiny sculptures that are placed in the nearby towns." link
"Fish really is the cure all food, Its in the fatty Omega 3 fish gives you.
Fish it seems is the answer to a healthy brain and body. Fish also supposedly rids of split border line personality, mood swings and harbors against anger or depression, migraine headaches and is good for your eyes and memory. You can also loose weight regardless of its fatty Omega- 3, and is good for the heart, helps prevent breast cancer apparently and menstrual cramps, lowers blood pressure and raises good cholesterol. If there’s a bunch of pills on the market you could not afford, or you simply reject taking any kind of drugs, fresh fish or fish oil capsules is the answer, and is probably the only gel capsule your need on your shelf." link
It would probably be wrong to quote any more from her, but I think I have my evening's entertainment sorted...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 9:13 AM on March 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well, to be honest the person most missed here seems to be an editor to say "No, this is not ready, take it back, work on it more".

You know, in the spanish speaking world we don't have editors like this (you only get a proofreader, the market is very different) and the quality seems to be just fine. A writer is expected to be a one man band or he isn't published.
posted by Omon Ra at 9:14 AM on March 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Pretty amazing train wreck, but I'll give this writer credit for putting herself out there in the arena to be laughed at. It is sad that the Internet lets us entertain ourselves at the expense of incompetent types who previously would have been protected by well-deserved obscurity.

There are much bigger fish out there writing terrible novels and getting away with it, for money.
posted by Victorvacendak at 9:17 AM on March 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


It would probably be wrong to quote any more from her, but I think I have my evening's entertainment sorted...

Oh, my! You actually read her? Poor dear, sit down, have a nice hot cup of tea and rest yourself. Feeling better? That's good.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:18 AM on March 29, 2011


Something similar happened a year or so ago on Amazon, a reader posted a negative review and the author posted anonymously, bashing the reviewer and then bashing everyone else who posted in the reviewer's defense. It devolved into some strange and paranoid ramblings.
The author, Candace Sams, eventually deleted all her comments but someone saved them and posted them on their Live Journal here
posted by cottoncandybeard at 9:19 AM on March 29, 2011


Al: Here are a couple sample sentences from the first two chapters that gave me pause and are representative of what I found difficult while reading.

"She carried her stocky build carefully back down the stairs."

"Don and Katy watched hypnotically Gino place more coffees out at another table with supreme balance."


Howett: Look AL, I'm not in the mood for playing snake with you, what I read above has no flaws

You guys should be ashamed, picking on a blind person like that.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:19 AM on March 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


Okay, I'll be the one to come out and say it.

Metafilter: Just look at your ball all of you....look at you.
posted by Naberius at 9:21 AM on March 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Don and Katy watched hypnotically Gino place more coffees out at another table with supreme balance."

I have a table with supreme balance myself, and I enjoy it immensely. It's very nice to be able to place out as many coffees as I like without worrying. Haters.
posted by iconomy at 9:21 AM on March 29, 2011 [23 favorites]


I think I will start using "hypnotically Gino" as a complimentary close on all my letters from now on.

That's a MeFi nick if I ever heard one. Or maybe:

MetaFilter: hypnotically Gino
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:22 AM on March 29, 2011


When you are writing something public, for money, it is your responsibility to use Standard Written English. This isn't something you're born knowing. Writers should at least have the humility to know this, but this fallacy is far too prevalent:

Writers know how to write.
I am a writer.
.
. . I must know how to write.
posted by sulphur at 9:23 AM on March 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


To review indie/self-published books is not picking on the poor helpless authors; it's the best publicity a lot of self-published authors will ever get, and anybody who can keep at it for more than a month or two has either an incredible eye for hidden gems or an iron stomach for terrible writing.

I've read an excerpt of the book, I've read her writing on the blog, and all I can say is that Howett should be delighted that Big Al called it entertaining. Frankly... his standards are much lower than mine.
posted by Jeanne at 9:24 AM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have a (sadly neglected) book review site, and I've been so pleased with some of the authors' responses to my reviews of their books. I've gotten emails thanking me for my "thoughtful" or "insightful" reviews, and authors have linked to my review from their own site. And it's not like my reviews didn't make criticisms of their work, either. But then I mostly just review very worthwhile books, which not surprisingly usually come from the keyboards of writers who are worthwhile human beings.

Yeah, ditto. Pretty much every bit of contact I've gotten from authors has given me the warm fuzzies.

I'm pretty sure I did get indirectly referenced as a "failed novelist hater" in an interview with one author I panned, but mostly I try to convince myself that they were talking about some other failed novelist hater. Haven't had anyone tell me to fuck off yet, at least.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:24 AM on March 29, 2011


You guys should be ashamed, picking on a blind person like that.

And you should be ashamed of the negativity concerning The Greek Seaman. There is a millennia-old tradition of Greek seamen in Greece.
posted by ersatz at 9:25 AM on March 29, 2011


Fuck off!

I think she's quoting Proust to the critics of Les Plaisirs et les jours.
posted by Abiezer at 9:29 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


From Ms. Howett's bio:
The changing scenery in London, from the late seventies to the mid eighties with the novelty of Arabs, giving out easy money, while they became educated, had followed by the left over stench in the air of the Iran war. Heavy metal bands, drugs, the AID scares and the confusing beginnings of the first computers taking over, that empted the paper shelves to discs were all part of the horrors that made her flee to North Wales where she continued to edit the novel, Cass. Again, she had to flee from there, due to the Welsh politics of the time, which were burning the British bought homes there. Who knew?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:31 AM on March 29, 2011 [29 favorites]


Yeah, we are very much in the business of mocking the afflicted here.
posted by Artw at 9:37 AM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


monju_bosatsu,

Wow...I would say she comes across as a bit of a paranoid delusional, but I'm having difficulty even parsing out the different clauses in that paragraph.

Parse, damn you! Parse!

PAAARSE!

I think I hurt something
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:38 AM on March 29, 2011 [9 favorites]


When I glanced at this earlier I actually wondered if English was her first language as her prose was so mangled. Sadly not...

It's never good to criticise criticism in public, no matter how painful and/or wrong it is - keep to private or close friends. I've hung out in comics forums where fans, amateur creatives and pros have intermingled and nothing and nothing ever comes of taking someone to task.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:38 AM on March 29, 2011


Metafilter: Just look at your ball all of you....look at you.

/obvious
posted by gompa at 9:39 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just watched the video of the author reading an excerpt of her book. ALERT: the video is full of spoilers!
posted by adamrice at 9:42 AM on March 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


I thought I struggled with spelling and sometimes syntax. sheesh

The whole saga has me veering back and forth. On one hand there is a point where enough is enough. It has kind of snowballed and as downright horrible as her writing (and her reaction) is, it hardly is deserving of (now) thousands of people piling derision upon her.

...


But then I read a bit more of her writing and unbidden thoughts pop into my head, "maybe she is an ESL student?" "maybe she has a really big magnetic poetry set and this whole thing is an art project gone horribly off-kilter?"
posted by edgeways at 9:42 AM on March 29, 2011


The best comment she makes:

Who are you any way? Really who are you?
What do we know about you?

All I could think of was this:
Reverend Anders, What are you after? What do you want? Who is the REAL Reverend Anders? You fucked with the wrong guys, Reverend!

posted by Saxon Kane at 9:44 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


From Ms. Howett's bio:
The changing scenery in London, from the late seventies to the mid eighties with the novelty of Arabs, giving out easy money, while they became educated, had followed by the left over stench in the air of the Iran war.


Rimmer (dictating): After intensive investigation comma of the markings on the alien pod comma it has become clear comma to me comma that we are dealing comma with a species of awesome intellect colon.

Holly: Good. Perhaps they might be able to give you a hand with your punctuation.
posted by Herodios at 9:46 AM on March 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wow, the cover design is just as good as the prose. The Secret Passion of Twins, for example, has an undeniable je ne sais quoi.
posted by robself at 9:49 AM on March 29, 2011


My daughter is learning to write. Really to write. She is 13 years old and she could be a great writer if that is what she chose to do with her life. Her grasp of language, colour, sound and narrative is incredible and she is a great storyteller.

To support her learning, Mrs. Salishsea and I have hired a writing mentor for her. Together they work on exercises, essays of all kinds and short stories. She has enjoyed the process but balked at the amount of red ink covering her work. She was really losing heart because for most of her life she has done things that she finds easy to do and isn't used to be corrected.

A few weeks ago I explained to her that no writer anywhere in the world worth their salt can work without an editor. In fact, it's a big myth that writers dwell in a garret producing florid and beautiful prose in one go with all of the subsequent success and praise that comes from such raw talent. I invited her to think of writing as a collaborative project. The writer brings the story and the style and the editor polishes it and makes it shine. I invited her to look at her mentor as a partner, not a critic. There are always going to be two (or more) of you in any publishing enterprise. This world is a world of team work, even though you will spend a lot of time alone with your keyboard.

I think the way English is taught in many schools, especially in early grades, undermines this particular view. Outstanding exceptions aside, it can get to be like a competition between the student and the teacher. And it starts early. Students are praised for quality and lose points for mistakes. The relationship is not collaborative but is like a collision. At a certain point, especially if writing just isn't your thing, you just parrot rules. At the end of the day, many students don't learn how to write, and the ones that do become fiercely protective of their work and are ashamed to share it for fear that others will seized upon their mistakes. Writing becomes a lonely and solitary pursuit, and revealing it to the public becomes frightening. It's a shame that such fear creeps into the production of art. The reactions of the author in this thread are indicative of that fear and vulnerability.

So let's teach kids that writing is a grand collaborative enterprise, as much dependant on the good relationship you have with those who want to help you be your best as it is on the story that is being created. What a gift to have an editor that shares a writer's aspirations! What a gift to have someone illuminate your blindspots with your very best quality in mind!
posted by salishsea at 9:50 AM on March 29, 2011 [71 favorites]


Um... I kind of like a couple of her paintings?
posted by Naberius at 9:50 AM on March 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wow...I would say she comes across as a bit of a paranoid delusional, but I'm having difficulty even parsing out the different clauses in that paragraph.

Parse, damn you! Parse!


Seems straightforward, really. She was an Iran War profiteer, with a sidelight selling unexploded ordnance and other military trinkets as novelties - via adverts in the backs of comic books, perhaps - until her other sidelight as a concert promoter for metal bands led to a drug overdose and AIDS scare, at which point she apparently lost some critical data (a metal band's master recordings, one supposes) during a digitization fiasco.

She retreated to a Welsh estate, where she was mistaken for royalty and firebombed by marauding peasants. She escaped with her life, but wound up with a rare neurological condition that simultaneously clouds the brain's syntax centres while flooding her limbic system with a certain protein that creates a persistent delusion of one's literary genius. (In some circles, this is known as Friedmadness.)

Couldn't be a simpler tale. Almost cliched, really. It would make a good plot for a historical novel set in the great seafaring age. The Widow's Peak: a sensual tale of love, revolt, headbanging and delusion. Soon to be a major motion picture starring Helena Bonham Carter.
posted by gompa at 9:53 AM on March 29, 2011 [28 favorites]


I see a legal change of name in her future.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:55 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is where the collapse of traditional book publishing and the rise of eBooks has taken us.

I was there (working in a student radio station) when this first started happening with music in a noticeable way (ie: the 1980s when cheap multi-track recorders finally made home recording of decent sounding stuff affordable). It still cost money to press and ship the actual albums but even so, there was suddenly a lot of music available that had not been filtered and vetted by some big deal record company's machine. At the radio station, this quickly got us organizing the new releases into four piles:

1. the major label stuff which, however AWFUL it often was, was always proficient from a perspective of craft. We'd pick through this pile and program the stuff that we felt was relevant to our listeners.

2. the good to amazing indie stuff, which quickly became the best music we were playing.

3. the fair to average to okay indie stuff, which wasn't abysmal; it just wasn't anything special (ie: it tended to sound like generic aping of whatever was considered cool and groundbreaking last year). This pile tended to get ignored unless the particular band/artist knew people at the station or happened to be playing in town, or did something else to get somebody's attention (ie: bought a lot of free drinks).

4. the so bad it was depressing stuff (ie: folks so out of touch with what constituted proficiency and/or relevance that it bordered on the tragic). This stuff, we ignored completely and eventually sent off to the landfill.

Clearly, the Greek Seaman would belong in pile 4 if it was an album, which gets me thinking that the real villain in all of this is Big Al for not just ignoring it completely in the first place.
posted by philip-random at 9:57 AM on March 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


No writer anywhere in the world worth their salt can work without an editor

I liked the sentiment of your post, but this is factually not true. Nabokov didn't have an editor, neither did Borges. Vargas Llosa doesn't have an editor. Roberto Bolaño didn't.
posted by Omon Ra at 9:57 AM on March 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


This is turning out to be the gift that keeps on giving. The following, for example - from the "art" section of her website that Naberius just linked to - might be the best single line in the history of art criticism:

Wow, those are some amazing pieces. That's cool that you did some of them in a bathing suit.

Pollack used to comments like this all the time, I bet.
posted by gompa at 9:58 AM on March 29, 2011


I dunno, her prose is kind of nice if you imagine Billy Collins or Garrison Keillor reading it.
posted by gc at 10:01 AM on March 29, 2011


Well...omonra, those writers are worth gold. I love my daughter and if she ever became a Borges, Llosa or Bolano, I'll happily eat my words. With salt.
posted by salishsea at 10:02 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


When you are writing something public, for money, it is your responsibility to use Standard Written English

Not really. Plenty of authors don't use standard written English in establishing a narrative voice. It's not the same as being a crap writer.
posted by Hoopo at 10:09 AM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


salishsea What I ment to convey (badly) is that the english-style editor (who's also a collaborator) is a rather modern (XXc) development, limited to very few countries.
posted by Omon Ra at 10:11 AM on March 29, 2011


She's still better than Dan Brown.
posted by Mister_A at 10:14 AM on March 29, 2011 [13 favorites]


I give many 2 and 3 star reviews. You have to blow me away to get a 4 or a 5.

I see what you are doing here.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:15 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


In her defense, it seems she made no further comments after the "Fuck off!"
posted by klarck at 10:21 AM on March 29, 2011


There are much bigger fish out there writing terrible novels

We must catch them for their omega 3!
posted by wildcrdj at 10:22 AM on March 29, 2011 [10 favorites]


Nabokov didn't have an editor...

Wow, is this true? I haven't read any bio on Nabokov, but that amazes me (In a good way - I'm not questioning you). I'm reading Lolita right now, and while I'm horrified by the story itself, the prose is, exactly as Nabokov describes, a love letter to the English language. It's interesting, being both appalled and enraptured at the same time. The travelogue is just beautiful. Humbert is truly horrible. He's maybe the most horrible character I've read, and that too makes the book beautiful. What strange power he wields.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:27 AM on March 29, 2011


I use to stretch canvass and create giant sized panels in my bathing suit.

That's gotta hurt!
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:30 AM on March 29, 2011 [8 favorites]


Devils Rancher, he talks about it in his Paris Review interview:

By “editor” I suppose you mean proofreader. Among these I have known limpid creatures of limitless tact and tenderness who would discuss with me a semicolon as if it were a point of honor—which, indeed, a point of art often is. But I have also come across a few pompous avuncular brutes who would attempt to “make suggestions” which I countered with a thunderous “stet!”
posted by Omon Ra at 10:31 AM on March 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


Um... I kind of like a couple of her paintings?

Yeah, Howett's not real good at words but she appears to be a pretty decent painter. You're not crazy.
posted by furiousthought at 10:31 AM on March 29, 2011


The most important thing I have learned from Metafilter: Flag it and move on.

It especially works in the big blue room outside. Guy elbows me in his rush to get on a train? Better for a little voice in my head to shout "Flag!" than for me to spend the rest of my subway ride shooting him death eyes. Lady with a double-wide stroller on a cell phone taking up the entire sidewalk? Cross the street, while thinking "Flag!"

It doesn't always work, but when it does, man, am I grateful.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 10:32 AM on March 29, 2011 [11 favorites]


Flag 'em all, let the mods sort 'em out.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:39 AM on March 29, 2011 [17 favorites]


> It especially works in the big blue room outside.

Hmm. I'm reminded of Serenity Now (insanity later).
posted by Burhanistan at 10:41 AM on March 29, 2011


o.O
posted by zarq at 10:48 AM on March 29, 2011


Pompous avuncular brutes!

What an interesting phrase, since avuncular is usually meant to conjure an image of your friendly uncle or other older, male relation. It works, though! It's easy enough to imagine that sort of helpful patronage sliding over into the line into simple patronizing.

I've never actually read Lolita, or any Nabokov for that matter. I've always been conflicted about it. I'm sure I would probably enjoy it, but my mom (a child protection professional) was always convinced that he had captured the soul of a sexual abuser too accurately to not have been one himself. I've always sort of wondered if she's right, and ended up always shying away from him.

More on-topic: that it's possible to self-publish cheaply with an e-book seems like an unmitigated good, to me. If you don't want to risk having your eyes offended by bad prose, then don't read the self-published stuff. Duh. That's not a fail-safe precaution, of course: a great deal of bad fiction gets published (and even famous!), but somehow I doubt that Howett's self-published e-book somehow imposed an opportunity cost of a better book not getting published somewhere.
posted by kavasa at 10:56 AM on March 29, 2011


Red adept get out of this!

I expected a much bigger flameout.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:04 AM on March 29, 2011


Lolita is superb, kavasa, there is nothing in Nabokov's bio or in the rest of his work that suggest any abuse remotely like what your mother thought. The big parallel between Nabokov and Humbert is that they both seduce with language to create a reality of their own choosing. Lolita, the character, is as much an invention of Humbert as it is Nabokov's. I dunno, it's a bit like saying that a writer who wrote well about a killing must have killed himself.
posted by Omon Ra at 11:06 AM on March 29, 2011


But I have also come across a few pompous avuncular brutes who would attempt to “make suggestions” which I countered with a thunderous “stet!”

"You're pale fired!"
posted by Artw at 11:07 AM on March 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


WTF?

1989. Just arrived in America from London
get- the featherd hat!


She can't even write or edit her own blog?
posted by Samizdata at 11:16 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've never actually read Lolita, or any Nabokov for that matter. I've always been conflicted about it. I'm sure I would probably enjoy it, but my mom (a child protection professional) was always convinced that he had captured the soul of a sexual abuser too accurately to not have been one himself

That's like not reading American Psycho because Bret Easton Ellis captured the soul of a serial killer to well to not be one himself. Authors are not the same as biographers.

Read the book - it's utterly sublime. In fact, read everything by Nabokov. He's not called a genius for nothing.
posted by Aquaman at 11:20 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


he talks about it in his Paris Review interview:

Wow, what a marvelous curmudgeon. That whole piece is really wonderful. He comes off at first as a bit pompous and dismissive, but he buries all doubt with an amazing flourish.
“Poshlust,” or in a better transliteration poshlost, has many nuances, and evidently I have not described them clearly enough in my little book on Gogol, if you think one can ask anybody if he is tempted by poshlost. Corny trash, vulgar clichés, Philistinism in all its phases, imitations of imitations, bogus profundities, crude, moronic, and dishonest pseudo-literature—these are obvious examples. Now, if we want to pin down poshlost in contemporary writing, we must look for it in Freudian symbolism, moth-eaten mythologies, social comment, humanistic messages, political allegories, overconcern with class or race, and the journalistic generalities we all know. Poshlost speaks in such concepts as “America is no better than Russia” or “We all share in Germany's guilt.” The flowers of poshlost bloom in such phrases and terms as “the moment of truth,” “charisma,” “existential” (used seriously), “dialogue” (as applied to political talks between nations), and “vocabulary” (as applied to a dauber). Listing in one breath Auschwitz, Hiroshima, and Vietnam is seditious poshlost. Belonging to a very select club (which sports one Jewish name—that of the treasurer) is genteel poshlost. Hack reviews are frequently poshlost, but it also lurks in certain highbrow essays. Poshlost calls Mr. Blank a great poet and Mr. Bluff a great novelist. One of poshlost's favorite breeding places has always been the Art Exhibition; there it is produced by so-called sculptors working with the tools of wreckers, building crankshaft cretins of stainless steel, Zen stereos, polystyrene stinkbirds, objects trouvés in latrines, cannonballs, canned balls. There we admire the gabinetti wall patterns of so-called abstract artists, Freudian surrealism, roric smudges, and Rorschach blots—all of it as corny in its own right as the academic “September Morns” and “Florentine Flowergirls” of half a century ago. The list is long, and, of course, everybody has his bête noire, his black pet, in the series. Mine is that airline ad: the snack served by an obsequious wench to a young couple—she eyeing ecstatically the cucumber canapé, he admiring wistfully the hostess. And, of course, Death in Venice. You see the range.

It makes me want to read some of his critical work he talks about working on, there. Thanks for linking to it.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:22 AM on March 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Devils Rancher, get his book Strong Opinions, it's all peppered with things like that.
posted by Omon Ra at 11:25 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


No writer anywhere in the world worth their salt can work without an editor.

Au contraire. Spend some time with The Greek Seaman, and you'll agree it's worth its salt, and then some. In fact, rarely does a novel explode onto the scene with the vigorous force of The Greek Seaman.
posted by FelliniBlank at 11:28 AM on March 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


There's nothing funny about homophony, FelliniBlank.
posted by Mister_A at 11:29 AM on March 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think I found a bit of context for the author's core dump...

It seems she has a little circle jerk going with a number of other "authors". She lauds their work on her blog, they laud hers on theirs, all is hearts and flowers.

They don't know from "review".
posted by likeso at 11:30 AM on March 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Just look at your balls, all of you...look at them.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:33 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


That said, picking on some kindle author without a proofreader or a publicist seems a little mean.

From where I sit, that seems like a purely contrarian sentiment. Here's the timeline of events:

1. Little-known author writes a rather poor book.
2. Little-known reviewer criticizes said book, politely, constructively, and with a fair bit of praise mixed in as well.
3. Author blasts reviewer, accuses him of various things, and starts calling him names. Reviewer keeps his cool and suggests she do the same.
4. Anonymouses (anonymi?) step in and defend the reviewer, taking the author to task for her unprofessionalism.
5. Author cries.
6. Blood in the water. Feeding frenzy commences.

Now, to me, it seems like the author's crime (picking on a reviewer who was generally nice to her) was more serious than those anons who picked on her for doing that. There's a difference between "being mean" to someone because of their nasty behavior and being mean to someone just because they criticized your work.

You can try to argue that the punishment was disproportionate to her misdeed, but then, we're still just talking about people on a small website writing comments. She can quit reading anytime she wants. When this goes beyond a handful of people on the internet pointing and laughing and becomes something serious, then I'll side with her. We're not there yet.
posted by Xezlec at 11:33 AM on March 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


I would describe the author using a nautical term (and with a nod to the show, "Arrested Development") as "a seaward".
posted by newfers at 11:39 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm sure I would probably enjoy it, but my mom (a child protection professional) was always convinced that he had captured the soul of a sexual abuser too accurately to not have been one himself.

If you asked your mom to describe what the soul of a sexual abuser was like, and she accurately did it, would she be a sexual abuser too? Isn't that what she's indicting Nabokov with, knowing too much about being a sexual abuser?

The whole point of writing is to become your subject and present it earnestly; it would be a shame for you to miss Nabokov simply because he was so good at it.
posted by dflemingecon at 11:41 AM on March 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


In her defense, it seems she made no further comments after the "Fuck off!"

The second time.
posted by -->NMN.80.418 at 11:53 AM on March 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


That said, picking on some kindle author without a proofreader or a publicist seems a little mean.

From where I sit, that seems like a purely contrarian sentiment.


I'm sorry if I implied that the entire internet piling on to a mentally confused middle aged woman with a self published woman because she's easily upset might, in some way, be slightly jerkish. God, what a tyrant I am.
posted by Artw at 11:56 AM on March 29, 2011


HOLY GOD THERE'S VIDEO

Hoo-boy, gotta love those YouTube comments.
posted by ericb at 12:06 PM on March 29, 2011


>> HOLY GOD THERE'S VIDEO

Approximately how bad should I feel about the fact that her accent immediately made me think of that This is How Michael Caine Speaks video? (previously)
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 12:12 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks to that video, I'm now acutely aware of how English can sound like gibberish to people who don't speak it.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:14 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


HOLY GOD THERE'S VIDEO

I recognize each of the individual words, but all together.... face ran mouse up Belgium yesterday.
posted by blockhead at 12:21 PM on March 29, 2011


You just leave the Belgians out of this blockhead!
posted by Meatbomb at 12:22 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


*looks at his ball*
posted by eritain at 12:24 PM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Greek Seaman by Leak E. Butt.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:24 PM on March 29, 2011


I have great hopes for a dizzying world-of-high-finance sequel called The Merchant Banker.
posted by Wolfdog at 12:28 PM on March 29, 2011


In Which I Play Good Cop and Bad Cop with Jacqueline Howett.

Why Writers Shouldn’t Be Rankled By Bad Reviews.
posted by ericb at 12:31 PM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Actually the sequel is called Look, at Your Ball, Michiko Kakutani, You Bitch!

I, am editing the book.
posted by Mister_A at 12:32 PM on March 29, 2011 [10 favorites]


why do I smell garlic and bleach?
posted by stenseng at 12:41 PM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


So "fuck off!" was her money shot?
posted by maxwelton at 1:03 PM on March 29, 2011


Humbert is truly horrible. He's maybe the most horrible character I've read, and that too makes the book beautiful. What strange power he wields.

I don't think I've ever heard HH described as "horrible" before. Horribly sympathetic perhaps? He's one of the saddest figures in modern literature ... (however, now that I think of it, I believe Nabokov himself leaned toward your intepretation.)

I thought that was one of the more recognized aspects of the book--how Humbert's remarkable offenses are portrayed (with him as the narrator) as downright prosaic and rational.

Although he's said the story has no moral or allegory, it's hard not to read it as an indictment of Soviet totalitarianism (the loss of childhood, etc.), especially when considering the use of the English language: "My private tragedy, which cannot, and indeed should not, be anybody's concern, is that I had to abandon my natural idiom, my untrammeled, rich, and infinitely docile Russian language for a second-rate brand of English."
posted by mrgrimm at 1:11 PM on March 29, 2011


Anonymouses (anonymi?)

Anonymice.
posted by Grangousier at 1:13 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I suddenly have a craving for tzatziki.
posted by backseatpilot at 1:15 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Horribly sympathetic perhaps?

Not to derail too much but, regarding H. Humbert: Yes, much as psychopaths often present cohesive and compelling narratives. That, to me, is horrifying. While reading the book, I felt oddly manipulated both by the main character, and ultimately, by Nabokov. I know I'm in the minority, but that sense of manipulation skeeved me out to the point that I couldn't enjoy either the language, or the tale.

posted by evidenceofabsence at 1:21 PM on March 29, 2011


And Als always seem to be big: Big Al. There's never a Small or Medium-Sized Al.
posted by Grangousier at 1:31 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


> And Als always seem to be big: Big Al. There's never a Small or Medium-Sized Al.

From now on, whenever I meet an Al for the first time I am going to ask: "So, which kind of Al are you? Big or Weird?"
posted by SpaceBass at 1:52 PM on March 29, 2011


I also think The Novelty of Arabs would be a lovely title for something.
posted by Grangousier at 1:59 PM on March 29, 2011


Big, Weird, or Uncle?
posted by merelyglib at 2:09 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


The product description for The Secret Passion of Twins is truly awesome.

Don't try to read it a breath to a sentence. You'll die...
They say twins know each other's thoughts. While on vacation, Cathy and Pat who are twins just might be in denial of this factor. When it comes to much needed love and Owen the next door neighbor is the only man in their lives, in reality, only one can have him, but it may appear everyone's in denial as each live out a fantasy with deep and somewhat strange psychological consequences in this gripping short story as they deal in their own way to let go of the guilt of a tragic family accident.
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 2:20 PM on March 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't think I've ever heard HH described as "horrible" before.

I find him to be sociopathic in the extreme, and utterly without redeeming character, though I'll be the first to admit that I'm pretty much inept at literary analysis. It seems to me like all of Humbert's feeble attempts at rationalizing the crime he perpetuates kind of just accentuate how horrible it really is.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:24 PM on March 29, 2011


Something similar happened on MightyGodKing's blog when he ran a review of some werewolf novel. Not sure if the respondent was the author though.
The review isn't exactly the best-written thing ever.
I once got called out by Anton Newcombe for a single negative comment in a review I wrote. No idea how he even found my site.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 2:49 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


These are questions, Katy asks herself.
posted by tumid dahlia at 3:38 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not to derail too much but, regarding H. Humbert: Yes, much as psychopaths often present cohesive and compelling narratives. That, to me, is horrifying. While reading the book, I felt oddly manipulated both by the main character, and ultimately, by Nabokov. I know I'm in the minority, but that sense of manipulation skeeved me out to the point that I couldn't enjoy either the language, or the tale.

Nabakov is using an unreliable narrator to ask a set of questions about authorial intent in fiction. This is crucial to the post modernist writers who come after him like Don DeLillo and Thomas Pynchon who explore this further. He wants you to understand that you are in fact reading fiction, while writing prose so beautiful that you get lured into this world of fiction he creates.

And, holy shit! Watching this women at work on the intertubes is like watching a car crash in extreme slow motion. Painful and compelling in almost equal measure.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 3:43 PM on March 29, 2011


The Anne Rice thing is incredibly measured compared to this. Sure, it's a little pompous. Sure, it's always bad form to go after negative reviews. And Anne Rice may not really be an interesting writer. But her "review" is coherent and light on the ad hominems, and it makes a brief case for her book before shutting the hell up.
posted by grobstein at 3:44 PM on March 29, 2011


I've never actually read Lolita, or any Nabokov for that matter.

Fix that.

I'm sure I would probably enjoy it, but my mom (a child protection professional) was always convinced that he had captured the soul of a sexual abuser too accurately to not have been one himself.

By that logic, you're mother was obviously a sexual abuser, because otherwise, how would she really know?
posted by kjs3 at 4:23 PM on March 29, 2011


s/you're/your/

Sorry...long day.
posted by kjs3 at 4:23 PM on March 29, 2011


Working on your e-book, kjs3?
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:29 PM on March 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


:P
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:30 PM on March 29, 2011


Here's the thing, though - - we're past 150 comments, from (figure maybe) 100? different commenters here on MetaFilter. . . and every single person here has better mastery of the basics (spelling, grammar, etc.) than does this self-proclaimed "author".

I would read a book from anybody here before I'd read Howett.

And yet she's confident enough in her abilities to
a) put her book up for sale, for money;
and
b) be incapable of handling the mildest of criticisms.

I'm just agog at 'people' in general.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 4:39 PM on March 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


@tumid dahlia: Obviously not. I corrected my error, and I didn't tell you to fuck off. Opposite of e-book authors, it seems.

P.S. - Thanks for the laugh. Needed that.
posted by kjs3 at 4:43 PM on March 29, 2011


I once got called out by Anton Newcombe for a single negative comment in a review I wrote.

Lovecraft in Brooklyn, you are officially the coolest person I (don't really) know.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:50 PM on March 29, 2011


Anyone interested in the pathology of people in the "self-published" scam (hint: if there are no gatekeepers for quality, it's not "publishing"), The Making Light Blog (http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/) is indispensable.
posted by kjs3 at 4:50 PM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wouldlike to buy a bound copy of this review page and curl up in bed with it.

"Far be it from us to disparage our own craft, whereby we have our living!
Only we must note these things: that Reviewing spreads with strange
vigour; that such a man as Byron reckons the reviewer and the poet equal;
that at the last Leipzig Fair, there was advertised a Review of Reviews. By
and by it will be found that all Literature has become one boundless self-
devouring Review …"
Thomas Carlyle, The Edinburgh Review, 1831.
posted by planetkyoto at 4:51 PM on March 29, 2011



I find Howitt’s self-exposure and subsequent takedown satisfying for two reasons:

1.) Years ago, needing extra cash, I put my newly minted MA to use teaching creative writing at a local community college (non-credit, adult interest). It was a deeply depressing experience. If I’d point out that it’s not “soar throat,” a student might respond, “But it’s a poem!,” meaning both that artistic creation ought to be exempt from rules and that I must not be very good if I didn’t know that. Or if I corrected poor grammar on an assignment, it wouldn’t be unusual for a student to complain, “But now you’ve changed the meaning! That’s not what I’m saying there!”

These reactions weren’t mere defensiveness, though there was plenty of that, because people can be sensitive about their writing. This I respect. No, it was combativeness, born of incurious ignorance. That I don’t respect.

(Granted, anti-intellectualism is part of the American character. This is why Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Ron Paul, Sharon Angle, Christine O’Donnell or whoever might be the next tea-party crank in line can make outrageous statements and not alienate their core supporters. Lots and lots of people care less about facts than about having their unschooled prejudices confirmed in the public discourse. This is also why Newt Gingrich or Donald Trump play the birther card: it’s not that they really believe it; it’s that they’re shoring up their right-wing base, a base that holds facts in low esteem.)

2.) It is a common refrain among some people I know: “Follow your passion,” to include seemingly infinite variations, like, “If you can dream it, you can become it.” I’ve trained myself not to get worked up about it, but really. The world is full of people who love one thing but are good at another. And the message is so debased: you only have to think it, no learning or discipline required! And that seems to be the place where Howett is coming from. Watching her takedown wasn’t mere schadenfreude. If she were the bad writer that she is, laboring away in obscurity, passionate about the craft she will never master, more power to her. No, she made the fatal mistake of not just proclaiming her ignorance, she wanted to fight about it.



She’s probably a nice lady. And I think it’s clear that she works hard at her writing and at figuring out ways to promote same. Nothing objectionable about that. But she made it bigger than this. She made it about the glorification of ignorance. So I don’t feel sorry for her that the internets took her down.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 4:56 PM on March 29, 2011 [14 favorites]


I'm sure I would probably enjoy it, but my mom (a child protection professional) was always convinced that he had captured the soul of a sexual abuser too accurately to not have been one himself.

By that logic, you're mother was obviously a sexual abuser, because otherwise, how would she really know?


No no no. It's meant literally. Nabokov, as a writer capturing the soul of a sex abuser, is like a trainer capturing a Pokemon.
posted by Hoopo at 5:01 PM on March 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


The Greek Seaman by Leak E. Butt.

Wrong thread.

QFT -- "Snacking should be a pleasure undiluted with problems like dirty underwear."
posted by ericb at 5:08 PM on March 29, 2011


She’s probably a nice lady.

With respect, no, she probably isn't. In fact, it's somewhat obvious she's not. Shallow, vulgar, desperate for attention, poor impulse control, anti-intellectual and delusions of competence are not the makings of someone "nice".

Imagine yourself having to spend an afternoon with her, telling you how wonderful she is, how talented she is, subjecting you to readings of her "published" masterpieces, and having to look at the childish "art". Knowing if you say "you know...that's pretty stilted prose..." or "nice, but not exactly a Kandinsky" will result in an unhinged rant about how you don't understand how great she is...

Sorry...I understand the desire to be "nice", but I find there's a limit to benefit of the doubt.
posted by kjs3 at 5:17 PM on March 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


@Hoopo: Gotcha! Makes more sense now.

I keep my captured souls on the mantle. Thanks for reminding me...I need to dust them.
posted by kjs3 at 5:21 PM on March 29, 2011


I once got called out by Anton Newcombe for a single negative comment in a review I wrote.

Lovecraft in Brooklyn, you are officially the coolest person I (don't really) know.


I assumed it was someone else, but apparently he does this to everyone. So you just need to say something like 'the last Brian Jonestown album was great, but the last song went on too long' and he'll show up. like Beetlejuice
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:56 PM on March 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


and delusions of competence are not the makings of someone "nice".

Previously.
posted by Mental Wimp at 7:17 PM on March 29, 2011


And Als always seem to be big: Big Al. There's never a Small or Medium-Sized Al.

I worked with a Middle Walter for a while.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:08 PM on March 29, 2011


And Als always seem to be big: Big Al. There's never a Small or Medium-Sized Al.

I worked with a Middle Walter for a while.


I know a little Josh, mid-Josh and big Josh. It's going to get awkward, because while little Josh is only ten years old, he's going to end up being about 6'5'.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:35 PM on March 29, 2011


Oh. my. god. You should read her website.

Fish also supposedly rids of split border line personality, mood swings and harbors against anger or depression, migraine headaches and is good for your eyes and memory. You can also loose weight regardless of its fatty Omega- 3, and is good for the heart, helps prevent breast cancer apparently and menstrual cramps, lowers blood pressure and raises good cholesterol. If there’s a bunch of pills on the market you could not afford, or you simply reject taking any kind of drugs, fresh fish or fish oil capsules is the answer, and is probably the only gel capsule your need on your shelf.

She can't even do shilling right.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:41 PM on March 29, 2011


I am now, my brain broken from reading the pragraphs in a book? Wait - why is my nose bleeding?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:09 PM on March 29, 2011


Two up: lies, all poorly-written lies. Eat more chicken.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:01 PM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is knot how I would like to spend my fifeteen minuts of fame.

I got a furious email from Thomas Moran when I put up a critical review on Amazon a few years ago. I've never felt more powerful!
posted by honey-barbara at 12:28 AM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh my GAWD the loose/lose thing!!1!! Of all the common spelling errors, that one irks me the most. It makes me unreasonalby angry. Seriously, irate, foaming at the mouth ANGER MAKING! Different words, people. Why is so hard?
posted by Eumachia L F at 2:46 AM on March 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


ENGLISH, MOTHERFUCKER. DO YOU SPEAK IT?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:56 AM on March 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Watch out... I think Eumachia L F is about to loose it.

sorry...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 3:37 AM on March 30, 2011


Don't loose your head.
posted by 6550 at 3:39 AM on March 30, 2011


Damnit.
posted by 6550 at 3:39 AM on March 30, 2011


GRAR.
posted by Eumachia L F at 3:50 AM on March 30, 2011


I had a friend in high school who fronted a band called "Seamen." They dressed in sailor suits. Very clever, huh?
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:27 AM on March 30, 2011


Bwuhahahaha....
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 4:34 AM on March 30, 2011


I know I'm late to the pun party, or perhaps I'm sinking too far into the murk. How can no one have mentioned the best mefi handle in all of this: hypnotically gyno?

Sorry. Back to the smut cave.
posted by Arquimedez Pozo at 5:45 AM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Of all the common spelling errors, that one irks me the most.

Mine is "where" when the writer means "were". They're not pronounced the same. They're not even the same goddamned part of speech. GRAR! And possibly HOPPITAMOPPITA!
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:46 AM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I once watched Kubrick's rendition of "Lolita", and could not make it through. I ejected it from the VCR, broke it in half, and dropped in a trash can. I cannot recall just what scene I was watching. I wish I could, because it makes for a better story.

I understand the reservations about "Lolita's" content, as opposed to its stylistic virtuosity. I had the same reservations, and so I read the book twice. I can't really think of any novel that is quite so controlled in its language, or controlling of its reader's response. Like the acts that carry the narrative, it's designed to be eerily manipulative. The mating of form and function so appropriate that many people (myself included) almost cannot stand it. The form of the book is beautiful almost beyond comprehension. It is a love song for language, not just English.

There are thousands of subtexts within Lolita, some so uncomfortable that they can make it almost unreadable. It comes too close, in far too many ways, to not have been written by some sort of madman. The level of cynicism inherent in the power dynamics of the book is terrifying. He's impossibly cognizant of how some of the most mundane and terrible corners of the world work. That's the upsetting bit.

That said, Nabokov doesn't appear to have been insane, or a child molester, or even a bad guy. He was always controlling the narrative of his real life though, and that can lead to suspicion when it's too well done. I mean: chess player? Lepidopterist? Life-long lover of his wife Vera? Talented poet? Apparent gentleman? I mean to say: could such a person exist right now without us wanting to tear him into his component pieces to see which the pervert is hiding in?

It's the exact opposite of what Ms. Howett has given us. I almost wish that she were some viral marketing sockpuppet sort, if only so we'd be less appalled next time this happens. And less fascinated.
posted by Arquimedez Pozo at 6:17 AM on March 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


“If anything, after the explosion he will only know about our cover up plan to sink the ship for the insurance. How will he ever know about the blue diamond,” said Captain Nikos.
---
“Can’t stop, I’m just about to sail around the world with an American guy who has a yacht, were over there,” said Pam, jumping up and down with excitement. “I met him after we parted and went different ways.”
---
Over the next week, Don helped supervising the deck hands in dry dock, and enjoyed getting to know his new crew he would have to teach to become seaman.

From the sample chapters. Simply glorious.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 6:26 AM on March 30, 2011


This woman needs to write pornographic fan fiction. If it does not include "should of", "a whole nother", or "could care less", disappointment from my brow furrowed will emit.

Nabokov: I've only seen the movie, but the impression I got was that we were seeing HH "snap". Like the middle aged professional who suddenly decides to try crack cocaine and ruins his life in slow motion. We are only supposed to feel sorry for him to the extent of "there but for the grace of god". That we never know if or when some synapse in our brain burns out and it turns us into a nut. Hell, it probably happens more often than we think, but so rarely intersects with opportunity.

Caine: He was on Craig Ferguson a few months ago, and the accents were scrambling my brains. This exchange really happened: (although I forget the exact place, it was a place whose name had changed)

Caine: I was in Leningrad last summer working on a film-
Ferguson: It's still called that?
Caine: No, it wasn't cold there.

The Scottish "called that" is indistinguishable from the Cockney "cold there".
posted by gjc at 6:39 AM on March 30, 2011


“If anything, after the explosion he will only know about our cover up plan to sink the ship for the insurance. How will he ever know about the blue diamond,” said Captain Nikos.
---
“Can’t stop, I’m just about to sail around the world with an American guy who has a yacht, were over there,” said Pam, jumping up and down with excitement. “I met him after we parted and went different ways.”
---
Over the next week, Don helped supervising the deck hands in dry dock, and enjoyed getting to know his new crew he would have to teach to become seaman.


I'll bet this author thinks in pictures. I'll bet she imagines each scene, and then tries to transcribe the dialog as best she can. Come bind with some awful Word autoconnection, a expurgated enlightenment of English, overuse of the Thesaurus, lack of editing,
posted by gjc at 6:48 AM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I once watched Kubrick's rendition of "Lolita", and could not make it through. I ejected it from the VCR, broke it in half, and dropped in a trash can.

I once taught Lolita to a bunch of high-school students at this summer lit class thing, along with a couple of other teachers. We spent hours talking about the language, the narrative voice and moral rationalizations of Humbert, the degree to which we the readers are allowed access to what Dolores is thinking and feeling, basically all the subtleties that make it a really fascinating book.

And then at the end we were like, "ha ha ha you guys wanna see something wacky?" and showed a scene of James Mason's insane honey-tongued Edgar-Oliver-esque portrayal of Humbert Humbert and basically the entire class's jaws dropped in unison.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:01 AM on March 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hynotically Gino
Is placing more coffee
You don't have to ask him
Don't order again
Hynotically Gino
Is here to provide you
Sweet refills of java
Gino's your friend
posted by Zed at 7:58 AM on March 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


So this person wrote the lyrics to Friday, correct?
posted by desjardins at 8:41 AM on March 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


The world is full of people who love one thing but are good at another. And the message is so debased: you only have to think it, no learning or discipline required! And that seems to be the place where Howett is coming from.

This made me think of this Cracked article. TLDR version: movies (like The Karate Kid) have taught people that worthwhile things should be much, much easier to master than they really are.

Personally, I semi-subscribe to Malcolm Gladwell's definition of genius as being a powerful love for something. A genius writer is a genius because he or she does nothing but write or read about writing or think about writing or work to improve their writing. I suspect, from the various positive aspects of the reviews, that this woman could one day be a very good writer if she wrote the requisite million words (and, presumably, listened when people pointed out her grammatical errors) but she has somehow been convinced that she's already reached that point.
posted by suetanvil at 10:24 AM on March 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Apropos to this discussion, a lot of the trouble with that book revolved around the fact that Rice (no relation) insisted that it not be edited, and apparently she had enough clout with her publisher to be able make that stick."

See also: Late Eddings, extended-version Heinlein.

Nothing good every comes of authors who get too big to be edited.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:34 PM on March 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Extended Stranger in a Strange Land was pretty bad, but extended Puppet Masters was fine, and extended Red Planet was barely any different from the original.

Nothing good every comes of authors who get too big to be edited.

But I definitely agree with this sentiment. Hug an editor today.
posted by Zed at 2:44 PM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


How not to respond to someone being wrong on the interwebs
posted by Artw at 4:47 AM on April 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


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