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Unwise choices for rebutting reviews
August 31, 2014 12:09 PM   Subscribe

Authors can choose to respond to reviews in many ways. This is a bad choice. Found at the LJ of James Nicoll.
posted by PussKillian (136 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
Stephan J Harper 2014-05-28 19:28
Lastly - and purely in good humor - your "the writing is at best, workmanlike" were you referring to passages like:

"However, what struck me immediately upon entering was perfume. It wasn't Cordelia&mdasah;rather roses. The scent was unmistakable. There were dozens and dozens of flowers in vases of all descriptions filling the living room. Roses grew from metal floor stands and stood in cut-crystal on side-tables and window-ledges and overflowed into the dining room, stopping only when the bouquets had covered her kitchen counters, scenting the air throughout like crazy. Some bear had sent her bright yellow and orange dozens, poised next to red, white and pink dozens. In the center of the living room, two dozen anxious roses blushed lavender by the vacant love-seat. " - CH14 pg.104

That's straight out of Fitzgerald and Keats, my friend. Straight out....and VENICE UNDER GLASS is more a lyrical prose poem to Venice than anything else!


Stephan J Harper 2014-05-28 19:36
Ok, not one last thing. [...]

Mr. Harper is an excellent writer—from the qualities of his prose I easily see him in my mind's eye sitting down to respond cordially and just getting angrier and ANGRIER.
posted by infinitewindow at 12:21 PM on August 31 [13 favorites]


He is communicating something, but not, I think, what he intends to communicate.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:25 PM on August 31 [5 favorites]


This is pathetic all around. Why are people devoting their time to taking down someone's poorly-edited $2.99 E-book about teddy bears in Venice? Is there really such a risk that this book is gonna blow up on iTunes?
posted by johngoren at 12:26 PM on August 31 [8 favorites]


Was it really a take-down review? It's a pretty mild example of the genre, if so.
posted by PussKillian at 12:29 PM on August 31 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: Straight out of Fitzgerald and Keats, my friend.
posted by scody at 12:31 PM on August 31 [32 favorites]


I can't tell if it's actually the author or if its a troll. I mean "That's straight out of Fitzgerald and Keats, my friend"? It sounds like someone taking the piss.
posted by surlyben at 12:32 PM on August 31 [6 favorites]


...two dozen anxious roses blushed lavender by the vacant love-seat

I saw this on Twitter earlier and now it's on Metafilter. I'm sure this guy is going sell quite a few more copies than he would have, just through being held up for ridicule.
posted by Flashman at 12:33 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


This reminds me so much of the answering-machine scene in Swingers - you just keep cringing and saying, okay, but he's going to stop now, right? And then he doesn't. Again. It's like a slo-mo horror film.
posted by Mchelly at 12:34 PM on August 31 [10 favorites]


Maybe the whole thing is fiction. That would sort of rock.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:34 PM on August 31 [19 favorites]


Despite Harper's rather insane number of comments, commenter Ron R wins the thread in one line:

I don't know about greatness, but I did eat a TON of jellybeans today.
posted by graymouser at 12:43 PM on August 31 [19 favorites]


If you imagine that StephAn J Harper is a very clever pseudonym for StephEn J Harper, it makes the story much more fun.
posted by jeather at 12:44 PM on August 31 [17 favorites]


Oh drat, ROU_Xenophobe, typed too quickly (and with butter on my hands, shouldn't post while I'm baking). Mods, please feel free to correct.
posted by PussKillian at 12:46 PM on August 31


The comments are way more fun if you imagine a teddy bear angrily pounding on a keyboard as he growls out every syllable.
posted by xingcat at 12:46 PM on August 31 [58 favorites]


Then again, it looks like they don't verify your name when you comment, and I know if I stumbled onto something like this when it was live, there's no way I wouldn't have logged in as Stephan J Harper and continued the rant.
posted by Mchelly at 12:46 PM on August 31


That's way more effort than one person would put into taking the piss, although a gang of commenters (and torrenters!) on, say, 4chan wouldn't be out of the question, I suppose.
posted by dhartung at 12:53 PM on August 31


wait wait
I had the audacity to let one of my website characters, Neville Addison-Graves III, write a critical analysis of VENICE UNDER GLASS (Basil’s Blog at www.basilbaker.com) using the standard methodology of literary criticism in academia - a fancy way to say Neville supports each and every point in his analysis with specific textual reference, as I have done here.
the website mentioned
the blog post

o_O
posted by ghostbikes at 12:56 PM on August 31 [10 favorites]


Maybe the whole thing is fiction. That would sort of rock

Lindsey Ellis and Co tried this with Awoken, Thier Twilight Meets Lovecraftian Horrors YA romance where they invented a fictional author and persona and had her respond to criticism and while the book is an amusingly subtle parody of self-published paranormal romance ( The NYC set scenes are hilariously inaccurate cause "the author" of course would never do any research,) the game didn't work cause the links to it not being "real" where the first things that came up in a google search and like, halfway through the writing they realized it was ...mean and toned it down to almost nothing. ( I liked the responses from publishers, which ranged from "this is actually workable if you change XZY...meaning the on-purpose bad elements" and "Can you make this more of an over the top parody?")
posted by The Whelk at 1:00 PM on August 31 [2 favorites]


Authors can choose to respond to reviews in many ways. This is a bad choice.

It may have been a bad choice, but I'm now tempted to buy his book and read it. I mean, his over-the-top response can't actually hurt his book sales, right?
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 1:02 PM on August 31


From the fake review: "The story is character, rather than plot, driven and the immediate impressions one gets can be stated without equivocation: the story is brilliantly conceived, endlessly inventive and beautifully written. Sparkling descriptions, intelligent dialogue and a perceptive, action-oriented narrator who provides thoughtful reflections on his world all go into making VENICE UNDER GLASS a great read."

I just... I mean... Really?

It's also bugging me that half his Italian words are misspelled. I realize that's the least of the problems here, but still.
posted by jaguar at 1:03 PM on August 31


I saw this over at Nicoll's LJ; and my initial reaction was "Huh, somebody felt the need to write this book - - AND they actually gave in to that urge"; but then Nicoll's commenters pointed out that (in this case at least) one really needed to read the comment thread - - and my reaction became

MY GOD IT'S FULL OF STEPHAN J HARPER
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 1:04 PM on August 31 [5 favorites]


Straight out of Fitzgerald and Keats, my friend.


Gah, I just heard that in Mitt Romney's voice.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:05 PM on August 31 [27 favorites]


"Psst...they don't realize yet that this ceased to be about me long upstream. This is a master-class in literary criticism and textual analysis and they have no idea what I'm talking about + no idea how qualified I am to teach it. It just amazes me that they call themselves writers but aren't interested in the words. I don't know any writers like that; and my writer's group thinks this is DELICIOUS."

His writer's group is laughing at you!!

(Picture of Harper smugly indicating a little semi-circle of stuffed teddy bears with little books and papers propped in front of them.)
posted by The otter lady at 1:07 PM on August 31 [47 favorites]


jaguar, Harper (er I mean Neville the teddy bear) mentions the Italian issues in his glowing review. Luckily, "The few flaws in the book are likely to be corrected in ver 1.1 thanks to the digital format."

from the author bio at the end of the positive-bear-review: Mr. Harper is the creator of basilbaker.com, "a literate site for bear lovers" on the Web since 1998.

definitely seems like an entirely ridiculous fictional thing happening here. is this like the literature equivalent of Neil Hamburger?
posted by ghostbikes at 1:10 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Teddy Bear Slavoj Žižek is composing a meta-commentary as I write this.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:11 PM on August 31 [15 favorites]


Yeah, I just saw that ghostbikes, but he doesn't actually mention many of the errors I saw, so I guess we'll have to wait for ver 1.2.
posted by jaguar at 1:12 PM on August 31


I mean... it's a guy who almost shares a name with the Prime Minister of Canada, who writes fiction using a weird Mac program, who has a very high opinion of his own work's importance, has created a new terminology to describe his work, and said work is a mystery set in Venice peopled entirely with teddy bears, some of whom are eroticized. Honestly, there's no way this isn't the first clue in an ARG written by Thomas Pynchon.
posted by Kattullus at 1:13 PM on August 31 [39 favorites]


See also: this Metatalk thread.
posted by item at 1:19 PM on August 31 [9 favorites]


sigh. I was hoping for a truly smug and self-important up-his-own-ass author rebutting a bad review in earnest.
posted by ghostbikes at 1:20 PM on August 31


Can we get Cornelius Bear in for some commentary? See both sides?
posted by The Whelk at 1:21 PM on August 31 [6 favorites]


wait does the book actually exist? i think i'd prefer if it didn't
posted by ghostbikes at 1:22 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


LOL

BTW Tidbits.com has a 1000 character limit on comments.
posted by charlie don't surf at 1:24 PM on August 31


It was a dark and stormy night; lightning lit up the sky like fireworks in a young child's eyes seeing Venice for the first time (which is where our adventure is set to commence), followed quickly by thunder sounding throughout the atmosphere like a million timpani drums -- except when it was quiet and if you strained your ears to the limit you could sort of hear the soft rustle of a million bears softly dreaming by the fireside -- tucked quickly into warm beds, their heads full of, not stuffing, but dreams; of picnics and marmalade? I do not know.
posted by stavrogin at 1:24 PM on August 31 [16 favorites]


I initially thought it was first time author syndrome, but apparently not.

PR attempt? It is getting the book talked about....
posted by IndigoJones at 1:27 PM on August 31


I've had half a bottle of wine and can't understand this. The guy in the comments quotes obviously shit writing - but is he satirising something?
posted by colie at 1:29 PM on August 31


OK but then there's this... apparently Harper was running a company called "MegaMedia" that made a point and click adventure game called "VENICE UNDER GLASS" in 1999...but then it went under in the dotcom bubble (after raising $2 million (!) to make a point and click game about teddybears in Venice! truly remarkable times) despite the demo receiving praise from game aficionados from OVER 40 countries... then he made it into an ebook 14 years later....which would the explain the weird "WOW 3D" late 1990's art style...

I WANT this to be real!
posted by pravit at 1:30 PM on August 31 [13 favorites]


Bloody Canadian prime ministers and their bear fanfic. I can't takes it anymore I can't!
posted by clvrmnky at 1:32 PM on August 31 [10 favorites]


From the fake/self review of Neville Addison-Graves III:
VENICE UNDER GLASS is decidedly a post-modern detective story that's part crime drama and police procedural as well as historical travelogue, romance, comedic tour de force and, for one bear at least, a tragedy.
Let's break out those "parts" of the story:
  1. Post-modern
  2. detective story
  3. crime drama
  4. police procedural
  5. historical travelogue
  6. romance
  7. comedic tour de force, and
  8. for one bear at least, a tragedy
Wow, I'm surprised he didn't get satire and tragedy in there some how, or at least some mythology or fables.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:43 PM on August 31


Huh. Every time I miss reading James' blog, something like this pops up. I'm staring to think he's doing this deliberately.

Anyway, I think Harper is more than just full of himself; it looks like he has some sort of weird obsessive personality.
posted by happyroach at 1:47 PM on August 31


Well now it's a cautionary example as well.
posted by The Whelk at 1:50 PM on August 31 [4 favorites]



Bloody Canadian prime ministers and their bear fanfic.


This thread reads brilliantly if such is actually the case. Most recently:

Anyway, I think Harper is more than just full of himself; it looks like he has some sort of weird obsessive personality.
posted by philip-random at 1:52 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 1:56 PM on August 31 [38 favorites]


This is doubling down taken to magnificent extreme.

I enjoyed also the screenshot at TidBits that shows the work's illustrations.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 1:58 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


I really want this to be some kind of Nabokov Pale Fire kinda thing. That would be brilliant.
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:05 PM on August 31 [3 favorites]


PS, what is the difference between Slavoj Žižek and a Teddy Bear?


A: One is a small, gruff, lumpy, furry creature that lives in a magical world of make-believe and happenstance. The other is something that teenage girls keep on their beds.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:09 PM on August 31 [16 favorites]


I tried to finish Harper's response but it was simply unbearable.
posted by dephlogisticated at 2:11 PM on August 31 [3 favorites]


It's just ursine of the times.
posted by mochapickle at 2:17 PM on August 31 [17 favorites]


The only proper response, if any, to a bad review is to politely point out errors of fact.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:17 PM on August 31


I am expecting UNBELIEVABLE reviews for my Venice Under Glass / Greek Seaman crossover fic.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:19 PM on August 31 [2 favorites]


it was unlikely i'd ever read this book - now i know i won't, because the author's comments make him out to be one of the world's biggest bores

it could be worse - he could pay his 5 bucks and start defending his book here
posted by pyramid termite at 2:22 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


I really want this to be some kind of Nabokov Pale Fire kinda thing. That would be brilliant.

Other than the obvious superficial similarity (i.e., yes, all of the characters in Pale Fire also happen to be teddy bears) - which is not nothing, admittedly - I don't think there's any particularly deep relation.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:27 PM on August 31 [2 favorites]


.. I actually flagged my own comment up there because I thought that's -exactly- what he would do, pyramid termite, and I didn't want to be one of the names on his list when he finally snaps and pulls out a long-range rifle studded with Ms Grossman stickers....
posted by The otter lady at 2:28 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


The only proper response, if any, to a bad review is to politely point out errors of fact.

...But what if it's just a plain fact that your prose is straight out of Fitzgerald or Keats, and only intellectual dishonesty could explain any claim otherwise? What then???

it could be worse - he could pay his 5 bucks and start defending his book here

OK, I will admit that a part of me has been hoping for that to happen. I'm sorry
posted by Pre-Taped Call In Show at 2:28 PM on August 31 [8 favorites]


OK, just from that double-page spread:

1. who the heck writes "€uro", much less says it?
2. Maladora isn't an Italian word.
3. Should be un momento, not una momento.
4. Pretty sure prego isn't used as in the last paragraph.

Also, authors, do not do that thing where foreigners know English very well but have never learned the words for "yes" and "sir".

(From Google Street View, the Ponte deli Scalzi doesn't really stand out from in front of the train station— it's low, and it's blocked by kiosks and a boat ticket office— but I suppose that's poetic license.)

(Also, Fabrizio gets on my nerves. Bland and unrealistic until the moment he needs to dispense a plot point— he's basically an NPC.)
posted by zompist at 2:30 PM on August 31 [2 favorites]


Dude's gone downhill since Freakanomics.
posted by basicchannel at 2:31 PM on August 31 [2 favorites]


> "A: One is a small, gruff, lumpy, furry creature that lives in a magical world of make-believe and happenstance. The other is something that teenage girls keep on their beds."

Aw, now I'm missing the beat-up old Slavoj Žižek I used to snuggle with.
posted by kyrademon at 2:33 PM on August 31 [13 favorites]


2. Maladora isn't an Italian word.

That could be a plot point, you know. THERE COULD BE MORE TO FABRIZIO THAN MEETS THE SEWN-ON BUTTON EYE.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:34 PM on August 31 [3 favorites]


Stephan J Harper is really Scott Adams.
posted by 4ster at 2:34 PM on August 31 [4 favorites]


Oh, no, he addresses the "Maladoro" mistake with a parody of brilliance in his fake review:
...but when first reading "Il Maladora di Venezia" (what the local press has named the Venetian crime spree), I thought he had erred here as well. However, later in the story, prima ballerina Natalia Navritolova translates this as "Venice's misfortune" and I realized the author's intent. Of course, Sfortuna di Venezia would be the correct Italian translation; but Harper is writing for an English-reading audience and chose Maladora (to indicate "Malady") taking liberty with the language: the closest Italian word would be Maleodore, meaning "foul-odor" which was clearly not the author's intent. In this context, then, the author took a bit of poetic license to make things clearer; and clarity of intent through language is always the high mark of literary art.
posted by jaguar at 2:37 PM on August 31 [4 favorites]


And the fake review promises no spoilers, so I assume that's not a major plot point. Sorry, Fabrizio.
posted by jaguar at 2:38 PM on August 31


Could be a double bluff.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:40 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


And foreign-language proper nouns do not need to be italicized so stop it stop it stop it, ugh.
posted by jaguar at 2:42 PM on August 31


...and the twist ending is: the "stolen Venetian glass" is actually a corpse flower.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:42 PM on August 31


haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate
posted by fungible at 3:07 PM on August 31


"Juvenile" and "at best, workmanlike" as this perhaps, Michael?

Missed all that in your ‘close reading’ Michael?

This is not original writing, Michael?

So, you missed the satire and social commentary completely, Michael?

The environmental theme is from Nancy Drew too, Michael?
I can only imagine all this in "Gob" Bluth's incredulous angry voice.
posted by Rangi at 3:22 PM on August 31 [33 favorites]


iBookstore has a free sample. About 40 of the 168 total pages.
posted by morganw at 3:28 PM on August 31


Why are people devoting their time to taking down someone's poorly-edited $2.99 E-book about teddy bears in Venice? Is there really such a risk that this book is gonna blow up on iTunes?

If dinosaur porn can make enough money for the authors to live off of, I see no reason on this earth why a teddy bear mystery can't.

Meanwhile, I wanted to read and laugh at the author's comments, but I started glazing over with boredom the longer and longer they went.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:29 PM on August 31 [3 favorites]


That dinosaur porn is overrated.
posted by kafziel at 3:31 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Everything about this is funny and sad, too:

- Author writes and self-publishes a mystery set in Venice, with all roles played by teddy bears.
- A writer on a Mac gadget review site posts a review that focuses on the story and functionality, focusing on a few weaknesses that many self-publishers face (editing, story) but holding it up as a positive example of just what the ebook platform can do.
- Author clearly mistakes a gadget review (filed under "Just for Fun") as a literary review and launches into a 50-part diatribe on just what defines Literature. Conclusion: Mysteries set in Venice with all roles played by teddy bears are most certainly Literature. Like crazy.
- One of the only other commenters responds primarily in haiku.

There's a paw-city (I'm so sorry) of actual reviews on the ebook. Most of the reviews on the basil site are just reprints of the author's press release. One of the reviews is entirely fictional and was written by one of the author's invented characters. This character is also a bear, and is prone to quoting Conrad.

It seems the multitouchfiction site is also a creation of the author, if the writing style is any indication.
posted by mochapickle at 3:41 PM on August 31 [9 favorites]


Is anyone else afraid of saying the author's name three times and summoning him here?
posted by Gable Oak at 3:42 PM on August 31 [2 favorites]


So I guess "poetic license" covers just about everything, eh? Kind of like when I joked with my boyfriend about everything I could blame on my new ADD diagnosis. Distracted? It's ADD. Anxious? ADD. Gassy? ADD, for sure. Snores terribly? It's okay; it's just the ol' ADD acting up again.
posted by Madamina at 3:42 PM on August 31


apparently Harper was running a company called "MegaMedia" that made a point and click adventure game called "VENICE UNDER GLASS" in 1999...

Here's a post-mortem from one of the developers: "Hi, my name is Josh, and I helped design and build a game all about living teddy bears in Venice, Italy." ::shudder::

(this entry has a bit more about the pre-Harper history of the company).
posted by effbot at 3:48 PM on August 31 [10 favorites]


From effbot's link:
I also was put in charge of creating the advertising art that ran in Teddy Bear review, and which showcased both the bears and the 3D modeling within Venice. Yeah, I didn't know there was a whole magazine dedicated to teddy bears either.
Of course, there's not just one. One summer, for an odd job, I spent a few weeks digging through the archives of Doll Reader magazine, the perpetrators of which also put out an equally malignant rag called "Teddy Bear and Friends".

All those dead eyes still haunt my nightmares.
posted by Wolfdog at 3:56 PM on August 31 [3 favorites]


effbot, that link is GOLD.

The concept for the game came from Steve Harper, who took over control of Megamedia around the fall of 1998. Raaj Menon, who owned the company, had decided to move his family and base of operations to Australia, so control of the Fremont, CA office went to Steve. Steve had written a few short stories about a teddy bear named Basil Baker, and he moved our team off of the racing project we'd been working on to work on an interactive teddy bear game based on his Basil Baker stories.

As part of a group of twenty-something guys, you can imagine our reaction.


It's like an Ask Metafilter question...but in REAL LIFE...
posted by pravit at 3:57 PM on August 31 [9 favorites]


I'm wondering if the question of the veracity is simply a mirage of personal publishing--critics from a tech news site and authors who are passionate and self-supported (not fronted by a publisher or other rep).
posted by xtian at 4:00 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Is this something I'd have to leave my Dare Wright shrine to understand?
posted by adipocere at 4:05 PM on August 31 [3 favorites]


My favourite thing is how the reviewer never responds. Not once. Not one tiny little word.
Oh masterful, glorious cruelty!
posted by Omnomnom at 4:10 PM on August 31 [3 favorites]


two dozen anxious roses blushed lavender by the vacant love-seat

I quite like 'anxious roses,' actually. They are a gift fraught with meaning. Two words tell a whole story.

The story is character, rather than plot, driven

Honestly, I don't see this as a negative. Build your world and a situation, drop defined characters into that situation, and write about how they'd react. That can be fascinating reading--or watching, for that matter.

I mean obviously this is shite--fucking teddy bears wtf--I just wanted to say these things.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:17 PM on August 31


These are not the bears I was looking for.
posted by johnofjack at 4:26 PM on August 31


So is this blog also Mr. Harper? It's linked to in his fictional critique:

We call this new genre MultiTouch Fiction," says Harper over a multitouchfiction.com, where he writes commentary on the new genre.
posted by johnnydummkopf at 4:33 PM on August 31


Yeah, somewhere in his rantings he talks about how the reviewer can't possibly be qualified to critique his work, because it's of a new genre, which he just invented.
posted by jaguar at 4:38 PM on August 31


MultiTouch Fiction is an entirely new Art form. At this point in time no one is qualified to render an informed opinion on this Art.

by the same logic, that would also mean that no one's qualified to create it
posted by pyramid termite at 4:39 PM on August 31 [7 favorites]


But what about this hasn't been capable with PDFs for, like, 15 years...?
posted by johnnydummkopf at 4:41 PM on August 31 [2 favorites]


CD-ROMs are going to disrupt everything.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 4:45 PM on August 31 [14 favorites]


We call this new genre MultiTouch Fiction

Didn't we used to call that porn?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:49 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


ooh, teddy bear porn ...
posted by pyramid termite at 4:54 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


two dozen anxious roses

...who are gazing in horror at what's about to become of the broken rose with laughing eyes.
posted by scody at 5:01 PM on August 31


Review - I don't think that word means what the author thinks it means.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:04 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


This made me laugh out loud, amazing stuff:

Ah, the non-serious come out to play. Naturally you would be the uneducated - unfamiliar with critical review. Yet, amazingly, you seek out opportunities to 'contribute' - what? Nothing of any value or substance. My god, your triviality... do either of you contribute anything to the world of Ideas or Art? And just how would you respond if you had created something of value that someone thoughtlessly tore down?

Emphasis added.
posted by wyndham at 5:09 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: My god, your triviality

It had to happen
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:15 PM on August 31 [15 favorites]


It's not even a bad review. Lucky we didn't say anything about the dirty knife.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 5:42 PM on August 31 [4 favorites]


Has an author attempting to respond to random Internet reviews ever turned out well? Ever? I understand the desire to defend one's baby, but seriously . . .
posted by schroedinger at 5:42 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Wow, who would have guessed that a guy who wrote a self-published mystery ebook set in Venice where all the characters are teddy bears would have turned out to be such a crank?
posted by strangely stunted trees at 6:00 PM on August 31 [9 favorites]


two dozen anxious roses blushed lavender by the vacant love-seat

I quite like 'anxious roses,' actually. They are a gift fraught with meaning. Two words tell a whole story.


Roses cannot be anxious, as they are not sentient; they aren't going to blush, either. (Both are straightforward examples of the Pathetic Fallacy.) A writer of real gifts could use the roses as a sign of anxieties felt by the characters, or otherwise metaphorically, but I think it's generally a sign of amateurism to attribute feelings to inanimate objects in descriptive writing (rather than poetry, where it acts differently).
posted by jokeefe at 6:11 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


oh my gawd, effbot's link. so this guy is real, doing this under his own name, has a lengthy history of pursuing this theme across various artistic media, and has also owned/been in control of a game company?

his money to gives-a-fuck ratio must be off the charts
posted by ghostbikes at 6:15 PM on August 31 [6 favorites]


You're right, the review is actually not that bad, especially since it is sort of a game review on a tech website.

Still, I am a concerned about the trend of Internet mobs laughing at possibly mentally fragile people like this man. Here's a review of the Venice Under Glass book written by the author in his bear persona, claiming the sentences are operating at Keats level. Now Redditors are picking on the guy. Here is his Bearly News page, and here's his best friend going through life-threatening surgery. Maybe the illusion of being Keats is all he has.
posted by johngoren at 6:15 PM on August 31 [7 favorites]


Wait, this was a CD-ROM era game too? Amazing.
posted by johngoren at 6:17 PM on August 31


writer of real gifts could use the roses as a sign of anxieties felt by the characters, or otherwise metaphorically

If it were in the hands of a gifted writer, I would read 'anxious roses' as an extension of whichever character's feelings. Their sentience is completely irrelevant in the face of poetic licence.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:21 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Wodehouse gives us "lighted a feverish cigarette" and "ate a moody slice of cold bacon".
posted by Wolfdog at 6:28 PM on August 31 [4 favorites]


If it were in the hands of a gifted writer, I would read 'anxious roses' as an extension of whichever character's feelings

Not to pick a fight, fffm, but the writers I admire most would never stoop to "anxious roses". "Poetic license" isn't a get out of bad writing free card...
posted by jokeefe at 6:29 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Wodehouse gives us "lighted a feverish cigarette" and "ate a moody slice of cold bacon".

For comedic effect though, right? Not as Seriously Business Literary Description.
posted by jokeefe at 6:30 PM on August 31 [3 favorites]


Still, I am a concerned about the trend of Internet mobs laughing at possibly mentally fragile people like this man. Here's a review of the Venice Under Glass book written by the author in his bear persona, claiming the sentences are operating at Keats level. Now Redditors are picking on the guy.

He posted 100+60 comments in that thread under the username "BethLogan", including a favorable review and response to the original review that "Beth" received from her "former creative writing professor" :\
posted by junco at 6:31 PM on August 31


Yeah, it feels weird to point and laugh at this guy when something's obviously off about him. All he did was write fiction of questionable merit and then very awkwardly (and verbosely) defend it. It's not as if he doxxed the author of the review and published his nude photos or something.

I really can't criticize anyone who's written a 150+ page book of any quality. It's more than I've done.
posted by desjardins at 6:31 PM on August 31 [9 favorites]


Wodehouse gives us "lighted a feverish cigarette" and "ate a moody slice of cold bacon".

Those adjectives seem to be cleverly placed for understatement but obviously describing the subject of the action. "He presented an anxious rose" would be similar. "Anxious roses blushing" are just overwrought without being specific.
posted by jaguar at 6:34 PM on August 31 [5 favorites]


For comedic effect though, right? Not as Seriously Business Literary Description.

I fail to understand why, in the hands of a talented writer, those should be any different. One cannot argue that Wodehouse was not a gifted author. Off the top of my head, and I am decidedly not a gifted writer, one could say, for example: "I loved her; she didn't know. After our first date I sent a bouquet of anxious roses..." Or some such.

Poetic licence means that writers can bend language to suit their aims (James Joyce or ee cummings anyone?) as long as they do so effectively.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:36 PM on August 31


Certainly my point was not to illustrate how Bear Guy's writing compares favorably to Wodehouse's, merely to corroborate the "If it were in the hands of a gifted writer" claim about that particular device. The actual line about "anxious roses" in its native environment is bad. They could possibly be transplanted somewhere where they would do better.
posted by Wolfdog at 6:40 PM on August 31


My point being, it was the two-word 'anxious roses' that tickled me in a good way, not the specific construction used by this.. I hesitate to use the word writer, so: typist.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:41 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Er, should have previewed I guess.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:41 PM on August 31


for whatever reason I'm reading through the reddit threads and the author is being a mega dingus to everyone who engages him (under a sockpuppet account).

I would love for someone who worked for this guy to come to metafilter and spill some juicy details.
posted by ghostbikes at 6:46 PM on August 31


Oh god- we're all just part of the text, aren't we? This is what they mean by 2D holographic universe.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:03 PM on August 31 [2 favorites]


Uh oh. Now John Q. Diefenbaker is defending his Trek/Due South crossover fanfic over on hackaday.

This is starting to get weird. Well, weird for non-Canadians.
posted by clvrmnky at 8:08 PM on August 31 [4 favorites]


Well, that's it- first thing tomorrow, I'm starting my multi-voiced epic, written from the perspective of a young man watching Star Trek: Due South being filmed in mid-1990s downtown Toronto; as well as that of a Chicagoan incensed by the fact that downtown Toronto looks nothing like Chicago (even the Zanzibar); and also from the perspective of a 24th-century Starfleet officer reminiscing about how the values expressed ST:DS became one of the foundational templates for the formation of the Federation, but also how (in reruns) its examination of late 20th-century criminality and policing exposed the structural rifts in early 21st-century US society, which would contribute to the explosion of the Bell Riots.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:25 PM on August 31 [5 favorites]


I would read the shit out of that. And it would read the shit /into/ me. I have no idea what that means, but it is explained in vol. IV, book 9, chapter 0xDEADBEEF
posted by clvrmnky at 8:31 PM on August 31


I would read the hell out of a series based on a teddy bear Hemingway knocking back scotch and running with the bulls.
posted by arcticseal at 8:56 PM on August 31 [4 favorites]


Multitouch Expat Plushie Fiction!
posted by jaguar at 9:39 PM on August 31


A Bearwell to Arms
posted by No-sword at 10:33 PM on August 31 [22 favorites]


I can't top this.
I was trying to whip up something frothily snarky - but this is simply beyond… I just can't get around the particulars, even, of this. A detective novel set in a Venice populated by Teddy Bears; written by a man who has had an ongoing fixation with Teddy Bears so profound that he once tried to make a video game about…
And then, to top this all off - lots and lots of people are talking about it.
Well, enough disaster tourism for today.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:57 AM on September 1


I can only imagine all this in "Gob" Bluth's incredulous angry voice.

Oh, hell yeah. For extra Gob-itude, I just reread the thing while listening to this.

It . . . exceeded expectations.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 1:35 AM on September 1


I sort of really hope this is all a massive, remarkably well constructed joke (for evidence, I note that that game developer's page is somewhat... bear bones), because otherwise this is just very sad.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 2:02 AM on September 1 [2 favorites]


I would read the hell out of a series based on a teddy bear Hemingway knocking back scotch and running with the bulls.

Not quite the same as PAPA Bear, arcticseal, but you may be pleased to know that I'm currently working on my screenplay for "Zorbear the Greek." Opa!!! Everybody! Dance!

Not like that! Dance like a BEAR!!! Opa!!!
posted by taz at 4:09 AM on September 1 [3 favorites]


Clawed Atlas?
posted by mochapickle at 6:03 AM on September 1 [1 favorite]


Christ, what a rebutthole.
posted by Omnomnom at 7:36 AM on September 1 [2 favorites]


Leonie Swann wrote a mystery novel entirely from the perspective of sheep. It's pretty brilliant. I'd love to see more sleuths who aren't loner cops, maverick agents, jaded PIs or small-business owners in quaint seaside towns.

Kudos to Stephan J Harper for trying something different.
posted by Georgina at 8:09 AM on September 1 [1 favorite]


My point being, it was the two-word 'anxious roses' that tickled me in a good way, not the specific construction used by this.. I hesitate to use the word writer, so: typist.

See Hypallage, a beautiful figure de style. Ibant obscuri sola sub nocte per umbram.
posted by anzen-dai-ichi at 8:36 AM on September 1 [1 favorite]


small-business owners in quaint seaside towns

Basil is from Carmel-by-the-Sea, which definitely qualifies as a quaint seaside town.
posted by effbot at 8:51 AM on September 1


For Whom the Bear Mauls
posted by brundlefly at 11:33 AM on September 1 [1 favorite]


The Old Bear and the Bee?
posted by mochapickle at 11:48 AM on September 1 [1 favorite]


I've got to say: As a kid I would have loved this. Big words, simple plot and teddy bears. So the author has delusions of grandure, I'd probably still enjoy reading his work more then most terrible fiction.
posted by Canageek at 11:56 AM on September 1


I read the first chapter during lunch and there's an odd parallel to The Talented Mr Ripley:

In Harper's book, the main character travels from America and meets a character named Herbert Richard Glass, aka HR, who is wealthy and American, and who has cast off his expensive and exclusive education to go frolic indefinitely in Italy. The Glass family is from Chicago and gained their considerable wealth in an industry that is ironic to their name: Plastic.

In Ripley, the main character travels from America and meets a character named Herbert Richard Greenleaf, aka HR, aka Dickie, who is wealthy and American, and who has cast off his expensive and exclusive education to go frolic indefinitely in Italy. The Greenleaf family is from New York and has gained their considerable wealth in an industry that is ironic to their name: Shipping. (Ironic because on a shipping boat, you rarely see any trees.)
posted by mochapickle at 12:51 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]


I sort of really hope this is all a massive, remarkably well constructed joke

Why do people have trouble believing that a grown man has such a longstanding interest in teddy bears when there are multiple conventions for adult male fans of My Little Pony?
posted by desjardins at 1:18 PM on September 1


brundlefly: For Whom the Bear Mauls

Given that he posted a fake review that he wrote, from the point of a bear literary critic, surely this should be For Whom "The Bear" Trolls, no?
posted by Len at 1:18 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]


If you read your reviews today,
you're sure of a big surprise.
If you reply to your reviews today,
you'd better post in disguise.

For every critic that ever there was
will gather there for certain, because
today's the day the teddy bears author has his shit fit
posted by adipocere at 2:15 PM on September 1 [8 favorites]


Why do people have trouble believing that a grown man has such a longstanding interest in teddy bears when there are multiple conventions for adult male fans of My Little Pony?

That's not a thing, really. No weirder than dozens of other obsessions I've seen people have. No, is his actions in defending his writing that really excite comment.

I am reminded of a recent episode of Nozaki-kun where the manga artists talk about the one editor who is obsessed with tsnuki and insists on putting them on weary page throughout his artist's romance manga.
posted by happyroach at 5:10 PM on September 1


Related: Tough Cookies: On Dealing With Criticism by Kameron Hurley.
There is never any need to directly respond to a review. Ever. Especially in the comments.
(and plenty of other good advice)
posted by effbot at 10:23 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Mr. Harper has joined the fray over at the Guardian. Shine on, etc.
posted by jokeefe at 8:07 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]


Oh, and he also makes an appearance at clairewriteswords, as well.
posted by jokeefe at 8:10 AM on September 9


Whatever his mental state, I think he's having the time of his life.
posted by happyroach at 4:38 PM on September 9 [2 favorites]


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