Everyone’s Critic – Alison Healy on One Star Book Reviews


Have you ever suspected that some of the facts of the day on those desk calendars are made up? I imagine someone in an office saying, ‘Quick, we don’t have a fact for April 22, give me one’, and a colleague suggesting, ‘Just say whoever made up the point interrogation was born on this day in 1540.

I began to have doubts about the veracity of the facts when I flipped through our own calendar last month and saw the claim that when the M6 ​​toll road in Birmingham was built in 2003, it was lined with 2.5 million Mills & Boon novels in paste. .

But my suspicions were unfounded, and it seems the road to true love is going very well in Birmingham, thanks to unwanted copies of romantic novels.

Apparently the books were pulped at a South Wales recycling company and used to hold the tarmac and asphalt in place and act as a sound absorber.

A BBC article online quoted project manager Richard Beal as saying that Mills & Boon’s books were being used “not as a statement about how we feel about writing, but because it is so absorbing. They may be slush to a lot of people, but it’s their “no slush” that is their appeal to us.

Some 45,000 pounds were needed for every kilometer of highway.

Books from other publishers were also used, but no author was verified in the article, which was just as good. What author wants to hear that thousands of copies of the book they’ve toiled over for years have been pulped and buried under the road? It’s almost worse than finding your book in the trash with a 99 cent sticker on it.

But if an author wants to feel really bad about their work, all they need to do is click on the reviews section on the Goodreads or Amazon websites.

There will always be a disgruntled reader giving a one star review for the most ridiculous reasons.

I think of the person who bought the screenplay for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and then gave it a star because they thought they’d buy a novel “and who would buy a stupid screenplay?” ”

I doubt the one-star review has shaken JK Rowling’s confidence, but maybe it’s just as well that some writers aren’t alive to read what some modern readers think about their work.

When James Joyce was finishing Ulysses in his Paris apartment, he might have been demoralized if he had known that, over a century later, the book would garner nearly 10,000 one-star reviews from Goodreads readers. .

What would Joyce have done with Chad, who advised people to strangle anyone with a staff if they described Odysseus as wonderful? Chad went on to say that the Irish have a great sense of humor, but sometimes they just go too far “like with the IRA and this book”. He didn’t elaborate on his inexplicable decision to tie the IRA to our sense of humor.

Cat lover Gary said it was “the worst book I have ever read; only redemptive quality is that there was a cat ”.

And Dan haughtily proclaimed that good books should be part of a conversation with the reader. “I made the mistake of inviting Joyce – via Ulysses – to join my literary conversation. He’s not much of a talker. Most of the time he sat in a corner muttering incoherently to himself ”.

If you feel bad for Joyce, you will feel worse for Anne Frank. When she wrote about her darkest fears as she hid in that attic in Amsterdam during WWII, she hoped her work would one day be published. But could she ever have thought that an American named Alex would read his diary almost 80 years later and complain that there wasn’t enough of the Holocaust? He moans that he only portrays the boredom of living in an attic. Did he expect her to risk her life and leave the attic to get a better mental picture of the Nazis pulling people from the streets?

But Alex put the last nail in the coffin of his literary credentials when he confidently declared: “In the pantheon of attic literature, Flowers in the Attic is still the gold standard.”

Samuel Beckett’s metaphysical reflections were not immune to harsh criticism either. One reader on Amazon described Waiting for Godot as gibberish, saying, “I don’t know what Beckett was smoking when he wrote it, and I don’t know what the reviewers were smoking when they rated him, but they were not cigarettes “.

But let’s leave the last word to a reader who called himself Alphakid42. In his review of Waiting for Godot, he said he would rather have open heart surgery without anesthesia than have the coin again in any form. “It’s so bad. No, it’s worse.

It’s safe to assume that Beckett wouldn’t have cared about Aphakid’s literary criticism42. He would probably have taken a sip of his double espresso and said, “I can’t go on. I will continue. And at least my books aren’t pulping to make a road to Birmingham.


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