Per my promotion of Craig Boyack’s latest work, when I wrote that I was a bad person for not writing about what I read, I thought I’d offer you my explanation. You can call it an excuse, but I’d call it a reason — These words merely illustrate perspective.
I don’t read reviews on books.
I’m not sayin never, but as a rule, I don’t. Last year when I finished The Goldfinch, I went to Goodreads and read reviews from people who hated it, because I hated it too, and I wanted the sorta satisfaction one gleans from other haters. It made me feel better. After spending five nights reading that long, drawn-out, overly descriptive piece of crap, I needed the giddy refreshment of vindication.
I know, a lot of people liked The Goldfinch.
A lot of people liking something has never been good advertising for me.
As I, and Ted Mosby, and the Coat Check Wench, know, a lot of stuff that everybody likes doesn’t live up to the hype.
I’m no hipster. I kinda like living under my rock.
I do not Fangirl. Ever.
I take my own preferences seriously, and I don’t recommend things freely. When something rocks my world, I do go on about it. I read a lot of good books, but I don’t encounter a lot of books that rock my world. Just because a book rocked your world doesn’t mean it will rock mine, and I presume that goes both ways.
It takes a certain kind of person, who gets me, who knows what I already like, to know what I might like to read, listen to, watch, what have you. There are a handful of people who influence my reading selection. They’re none of them bloggers, none of them experts or critics, certainly not strangers on Goodreads.
It’s too personal.
It’s too personal to tell someone you don’t like their creation.
Have you never dated an artist of any kind? Have you never had to say “I really like you personally. You’re a good and interesting person, but I would rather drive all the way to Iowa in a series of roundabouts than to spend another minute of my life suffering the experience of your art.”
It’s an effective way to end a relationship.
Along those same lines, it’s amazing how many creations we love, but are appalled by the artist as a person.
You know it’s true.
And the stuff I like? Well I like it for obscure personal reasons. Connecting with some brilliant sentence on page 46…
All my life people have praised me for my honesty and my candor and that’s all fine and good, I like that in people, too. If you’re like that, then you know, people value your honest opinion unless it is about them.
The Mister said he missed an update on a relative’s health, didn’t know what was goin on. Heavens to Murgatroyd, he almost had to call his mama!
Our friend Dee said, “If you wanna share important updates on Facebook, you should private message people first, so they know what the hell is goin on.”
I said, “No, see, I don’t agree with that. I think if I post some shit and you dunno what the fuck I’m talkin about then you’re not in the know cause you didn’t care that much in the first place and you should prolly just mind your own goddamn business.”
They all laughed.
“Y’all know that’s how I do.”
“And that’s why we love you.”
Truth telling about other people is best limited to those who tell the truth. Those people are rare. I’m married to one. We both have the same policy, “Don’t ask me for my opinion, cause I’ll give it to you.”
If I had to sit in front of Donna Tartt, I wouldn’t mention her book. If she mentioned it, I’d say, “Yes, Congratulations on your Pulitzer, you must be so pleased!” Y’all, she could be a good and interesting person, I don’t know. But I’d put money on her having at least one friend who didn’t like her book.
I realize that as a person who writes fiction, it may be construed as rude not to write reviews for other authors, especially friends…Still…It is my right to be such a bad person.
I have the right to decline being a beta reader, the right to charge you for editing, and the right to buy your work and never read it.
After having written all that, how could anyone possibly want my honest opinion?