Monday, 4 July 2011

Theaker's Quarterly Fiction #37 – now available for free!

We have eight stories in this summer’s issue of Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction, and I’m immensely proud to be publishing all of them:

  • “Apoidroids” by Douglas Thompson
  • “Make It Sacred” by Mike Sweeney
  • “The Last Testament” by Rafe McGregor
  • “Curios” by Ben Kendall-Carpenter
  • “The Model of a Boy” by Alex Smith
  • “Harrowing of the Barrow” by Skadi meic Beorh
  • “Devilry at the Hanging Tree Inn” by David Tallerman
  • “The Watchman” by Chris Roper.

The editorial, “How Could a Person Up and Call a Person Wack?!”, addresses, in my clumsy way, the suggestion put to us in recent months that giving bad reviews to books is something we should avoid. I also discuss the unfortunate lack of female contributors to this issue, and set out one practical step I’m taking to improve the visibility of female writers in our magazine.

In a bit of a departure, we also have an article: “In the Shadow of Slartibartfast: Donald Cotton and Doctor Who’s Other Comedic Trilogy” by Jacob Edwards. You can see why it appealed to me.

Our review section stretches to thirty pages. In books John Greenwood and I look at The Art of McSweeney’s, The Captain Jack Sparrow Handbook by Jason Heller, The Damned Busters by Matthew Hughes, The Gift of Joy by Ian Whates, The Heavenly Fox by Richard Parks, Outpost by Adam Baker, Revenants by Daniel Mills, Spectral Press #2: The Abolisher of Roses by Gary Fry and Vampire Warlords by Andy Remic.

In the audio section I review three Doctor Who adventures: The Forbidden Time, The Sentinels of the New Dawn and The Hounds of Artemis. The film section covers Death Race 2, Insidious, Never Let Me Go, Red Riding Hood, Source Code and X-Men: First Class (three reviews by Jacob Edwards, two by Douglas J. Ogurek, and one by me). I review two comics this time: Baltimore, Vol. 1: The Plague Ships, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season Eight, Vol. 2: No Future for You.

This 128pp issue is available in all the usual formats, all free except the print edition, which we’ve priced as cheaply as possible:

Paperback from Lulu
PDF of the paperback version (ideal for iPad - click on File and then Download Original)
Kindle (free)
Epub (ideal for Sony Reader)
TQF37 on Feedbooks

Which sweet fools lined up for literary exploitation this time?

Alex Smith lives in Bethesda, Maryland and he is a doctoral student of psychology at George Washington University. Alex’s poems and stories have recently appeared in Catch-Up Louisville, Food I Corp, and Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction #31. He is the author of a novella titled THE BERSERK and a book of poems titled LUX. His chapbook, BLOWN, was published by Superchief in 2011.

Ben Kendall-Carpenter lives and was born in Manchester. He enjoys cricket, the work of H.P. Lovecraft and J.G. Ballard, and listening to The Smiths. He is currently working on a collection of horror stories.

Chris Roper lives in Brighton, England, with his girlfriend of three years, Sarah-Jane. When not writing he enjoys travel, normally to tropical climates in Asia, and is a keen reader of horror and science fiction.

David Tallerman’s horror, fantasy and science fiction short stories have appeared in over thirty markets, including Lightspeed, Bull Spec, Flash Fiction Online and John Joseph Adams’s zombie best-of anthology The Living Dead. Amongst other projects, David has also published poetry (in Chiaroscuro), various film reviews and articles, and comic scripts through the award-winning British Futurequake Press. David’s first novel, comic fantasy adventure Giant Thief, will be published in early 2012 by UK publisher Angry Robot, to be closely followed by two sequels. He can be found at http://davidtallerman.net and http://davidtallerman.blogspot.com.

Douglas J. Ogurek’s work appears in or is forthcoming in the British Fantasy Society Journal, The Literary Review and Dark Things V (Pill Hill Press). Ogurek has also written over 50 articles about architectural planning and design. To this issue he contributes reviews of Insidious and Red Riding Hood. To TQF33 he contributed the astonishing “NON”. He lives in Gurnee, Illinois with his wife and their six pets.

Douglas Thompson’s short stories have appeared in a wide range of magazines, most recently Albedo One, Ambit, and PS Publishing’s Catastrophia anthology. He won the Grolsch/Herald Question of Style Award in 1989 and second prize in the Neil Gunn Writing Competition in 2007. His first book, Ultrameta, was published by Eibonvale Press in August 2009, nominated for the Edge Hill Prize, and shortlisted for the BFS Best Newcomer Award. His second novel Sylvow was published in autumn 2010, also from Eibonvale. A third novel Mechagnosis will be published by Dog Horn in autumn 2011.

Howard Watts is an artist from Brighton. He has previously provided covers for Pantechnicon, Dark Horizons and TQF, including the cover for this issue. His story “Totem” appeared in TQF36.

Jacob Edwards is currently indentured to Australia’s speculative fiction flagship Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, as Jack of all Necessities (Deckchairs and Bendy Straws). To this issue he contributes three film reviews and a paean to Doctor Who’s great lost humorist.

Mike Sweeney lives in Central New Jersey. His short stories can be found here and there. He’s especially fond of the ones over at Jersey Devil Press (www.jerseydevilpress.com).

Rafe McGregor is is a crime fiction author who spends far too much of his time rereading the work of H.P. Lovecraft and M.R. James. He lives with his wife in a village near York.

Skadi meic Beorh is a writer of speculative fiction who presently lives with his wife Ember on the Atlantic Coast of Florida. He is the author of the story collection Always After Thieves Watch, the poetry collections Golgotha and New Irish Poems, the dictionary Pirate Lingo, and the novel The Pirates of St. Augustine.

66 comments:

  1. http://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/no-blame/

    ReplyDelete
  2. A "major editorial"! I like the sound of that. Here's a live version of D.F. Lewis's link: No Blame.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks. Just comparing stratospheres.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Des, thanks for the apology (on the blog).

    As far as an "audit trail" goes, isn't the story simply that you alleged I had a grudge against you on the BFS forums, and then publicly apologised for having done so? We discussed it at length by email and you were unable to suggest any reason why I might have a grudge against you, or offer any evidence to suggest I might have one.

    In fact, far from having a grudge against you, I had purchased (and publicly said many positive things about) a number of your books, and had even expressed an interest in publishing your work in the future.

    When you sent me a copy of Weirdtongue, I indicated an intention to review it, to which you made no complaint. If you were concerned that your imaginary grudge would influence a review, that was the time to do it. In the event, John was looking for books to review and I passed him yours, knowing that you had been disappointed by how few reviews of it there had been. I instead finished reading the online version which I had already begun.

    Your reaction to the review was to attack the reviewer's right to give a book a bad review, and my editorial is a response to that argument.

    As far as redress goes, I'd be more than happy to print a letter from you in the next issue of TQF.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I find the suggestion in the above link strange that a reviewer should be ‘significantly in tune’ with a book to review it. What exactly does this mean? Does it mean the reviewer must have past knowledge of the writer’s work? If so, this is absurd. It suggests the writer or his work is so well known, that the reviewer should have known what to expect from the work in the first place. For me, no writer would want any reader / reviewer approaching their work with that frame of mind, and certainly no reviewer can know a writer so well as to know what to expect from every single line. If the reviewer did, then you’re not a writer.
    The suggestion that such a negative review (considering the previous two independent reviews have been positive and that because the work has been published in the first place) shouldn’t have been printed is equally strange. Chicken and the egg. If the work had not been printed, then it wouldn’t have been reviewed! It seems to me the writer would seek in future to vet further reviewers on his own terms, lest a negative remark regarding his work is written. If this approach was adopted across the board then there would be no need for reviewers of any art form.
    What is ‘extreme negative reviewing’? It sounds like a dangerous new sport, something akin to skydiving at 30,000ft with a laptop without a spellchecker and a 5 minute deadline to edit a 10,000 word poem.
    Seriously and conversely an extremely positive review will only, can only serve to polish the (any) writer’s ego. They can sit at their monitor puff-chested as much as they like, but such a review won’t help them with character, conflict or plot – it’s up to them to develop and build upon their skills. A constructive and critical review will help the writer hone their skills, to hopefully look back on their work to see exactly what the reviewer is talking about and address these points in latter work.
    One bad, sorry, ‘extremely negative’ review. It’s hardly worth crying over, is it? All writers receive knocks – I know I’ve had my share of rejections. It’s important to take them on the chin and learn from them, rather than take them as (as it seems in this case) a damming final say. Bounce back and focus your energy on the work. Such knee-jerk reactions only serve to diminish your professionalism in the eyes of the audience you seek to entertain.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks, Howard.
    I much appreciate your thoughts. You might see that I have become embroiled in complexities that I'm finding hard to put across. I hope you might be able to keep your powder dry till the whole issue is resolved. Meantime, I shall be please to answer any queries.
    I notice you are interested in classical music. A major passion of mine.
    des
    www.nemonymous.com

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think the only reason you find yourself "embroiled in complexities", Des, is that you find it so hard to accept that anyone disagrees with you or dislikes your work without having an ulterior motive for doing so.

    If you were able to put that to one side, your complexities vanish.

    John didn't enjoy your book, and so he gave it a bad review (for which you actually thanked us, at first).

    Then later, you soured, and suggested that there was something improper about giving books such bad reviews, and suggested that we should not have published John's review.

    In my editorial I discuss those suggestions, taking your points one by one, quoting your own words extensively, and explain why I don't agree with them.

    I'm afraid there are no complexities here, there is no "issue" to be "resolved", just an author in a tizzy over a bad review.

    Or rather, perhaps, pretending to be in a tizzy because it's all good publicity for a book that you've said isn't selling terribly well...

    ReplyDelete
  8. I forgot to say, thanks for your comments, Howard, with which I entirely agree. If they were about someone else, I'm sure Des would agree with them too!

    ReplyDelete
  9. You can blanket all my arguments with blanket refutations, all you like, Stephen. That doesn't prove anything. Each issue, if it is to be resolved, needs to be taken one by one and given space. And it is certainly not for publicity. This is wearing me out and depleting my other activities - and will have no effect on sales, with which i'm not concerned, anyway. You said elsewhere that John's review of Weirdtongue is gentle compared to others. I find that amazing. If so, I'm glad I'm taking a sole stand on extreme reviewing. And another point - you said elsewhere that John had not read anything by me before doing his review. yet its starts with a predisposal that would indicate that he had.
    "Do not accept for review a book you are predisposed to dislike" - John Updike
    I'll get on to other issues in due course.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Rather than keep coming back here, I shall write a full detailed report of each issue and show it to friends in and out of the field before showing it here. If they think I have been defamed by your printed article, I shall consider my position. Your article, Stephen, did seem to be a sledgehammer to crack a nut (to coin a phrase!). I don't think anyone had heard of this controversy until that came out. Hardly anyone reads my blog. And - again - I am not annoyed at a bad review or intent on publicity. This is the first time over 25 years I've complained. I am annoyed at far bigger issues than that.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Why would you find my statement that John's review is gentle compared to some so amazing?

    Surely, before you began to accuse that review of being deliberately negative and motivated by a grudge, you compared it with other reviews we had written? If you had, you would have seen that it was entirely of a piece with John's other reviews.

    John's review doesn't start with a predisposal at all. I know this seems odd to you, but most reviewers wait until they have finished the book before reviewing it. Hence, the first line of John's review summarises his experience of having read the book.

    John accepted your book for review because I had recommended you as an interesting writer who was struggling to find reviewers. I guess we've now discovered another reason why that might be.

    We know that you are concerned with sales. After rejigging your Weirdtongue website, you gave as your reason that sales were not good.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Well, all writers are concerned with people reading it - not necessarily sales. That's common sense. But that's not the driving force here, I assure you.
    The reason I'm pleased to be taking stand - despite wht it's doing to me - is that if extreme reviewing is taken as a matter of course (as is indicated by what you said), someone NEEDS to take a stand.

    ReplyDelete
  13. (Responding to the post of 22:15.)

    There is nothing defamatory about my editorial. It's a discussion - and rejection - of the ideas you have put forward. I thought they were rather silly ideas, but I thought it was worth explaining why I thought so, given that they are not at all unusual among people who have received bad reviews.

    The only part that relates to your character, and thus might potentially lie within the realm of defamation, is that I mention "a month-long campaign to discredit the review, the reviewer and the publication in which it appeared", but I think that is more than arguable on the facts, especially since you are still alleging some kind of mysterous wrongdoing on our part!

    ReplyDelete
  14. On the other issue, I can't prove John was predisposed before reading the book handed to him by you (a present from me) - so I withdraw that. I am used to real-time reviewing as you know. That's whaat I mean by giving each issue space - without curt blanket refutations - and the need of a sledgehammer article that's done me much undeserved damage, in my view. Read my blogs again. did they really deserve THAT?

    You said on your facebook you are not as angry now as when you wrote it.

    ReplyDelete
  15. (Responding to the post of 22:27.)

    Someone did take a stand against negative reviews, Des. They called themselves the Science Fiction and Fantasy Ethics Group, and from what I can tell they lasted just a month before collapsing under the weight of their collective embarassment.

    In any case, you've made your point. Getting such an honest review made you unhappy. And so we won't review any books that you've written or edited ever again.

    I've no doubt there will be authors and publishers who are made equally unhappy by our reviews, and will stop sending us their books, but so far that does not appear to be the case.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Well, Theakers Quarterly actually barred themselves from reveiwing me again in the actual Weirdtongue review they published. No rematch., it said. That's before I complained.

    ReplyDelete
  17. (Responding to the post of 22:34.)

    I said I'm not as angry as I was when I *first* wrote it. That's why I deleted the most scathing passages before publication.

    There is no sledgehammer here. You argued that there was something inappropriate about John's review, and I decided to address your suggestions. Given that, even now, you continue to allege that there was something underhand about the review, it's hard to see why you think I should not have responded.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I'm not taking a stand against negative reviews. I'm taking a stand against the type of review Theakers Q publish IF they are like the Weirdtongue one (or even more extreme, as you admit).

    ReplyDelete
  19. (Responding to the post of 22:42.)

    No, John Greenwood said in his review that he wasn't interested in reading any more of your books.

    As a result of your behaviour since then we have decided that our publication will not accept any of your books for review in future. We can't review an author who has alleged we have a grudge against him, for the reasons I gave in the editorial.

    ReplyDelete
  20. (Responding to the post of 22:45.)

    As far as we are concerned, a very, very bad book should get a very, very bad review.

    Do you feel that's something you should take a stand against?

    ReplyDelete
  21. Well, the question of somthing to do with anger needing to be reined back says something to me. There was nothing to be angry about in my blogs. They're quite mild. I kept sayinfg I don't know and no blame. Just asking for objective advice. But I got a sledgehammer instead.
    got to go to bed now.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I haven't alleged anything in any of our negotiations. I just don't know. How can I?

    As to very very bad books, I addressed that in my blog. Also, if a book is *extremely* against the reviewer's taste, how can he possibly issue a review on it?

    ReplyDelete
  23. (Responding to the post of 22:51.)

    You've repeatedly alleged that there was something underhand and malicious going on. Yes, that makes people angry.

    You've been willing to make fairly appalling allegations about us simply in order to neutralise the effect that a bad review might have upon your reputation.

    I didn't have any reason to have a grudge against you before, but the cumulative effect of your behaviour has been that I certainly do now.

    ReplyDelete
  24. (Responding to the post of 23:02.)

    I addressed that point in my editorial.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Your talk of my 'behaviour' makes yme think you think you're talking to a schoolkid. You know how to rub people up the wrong way. I think I have been at fault in certain aspeects but my intentions are honourable.
    And I don't deserve the treatment I have received at your hands. Conflation, decontextualisation, blanket refutations, etc.
    Now really must go to bed.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I keep repeating = I'm not worried about bad reviews and my reputation deriving from them. You were angry. Probably still are. So am I. I'm simply trying to steer a course through for us all. And you keep coming back with your sledgehammer comments.

    ReplyDelete
  27. (Responding to the post of 23:11.)

    You decided to go on the offensive, not just here but on the TTA Press forums, the BFS forums, and Facebook. You decided to begin four separate arguments, in all of which you have floundered, largely because your comments have been half-baked and badly thought-out. Perhaps in future it might be worth taking more than three minutes to prepare your replies?

    All you've managed to do is confirm the impression that you're just in a tizzy about a bad review.

    Certainly, describing your own ideas as a mere nut in comparison to my sledgehammer makes one wonder: why put them forward in the first place, if you thought they were so pathetic?

    I'm afraid the reason you have struggled so badly to gain a foothold in this discussion is that you don't have a leg to stand on.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Just saying all that doesn't necessarily make it true.
    Refutations and blind statements are not an argument. I'll let others decide, as I said before.

    I was being humble about the sledgehammer. I the scheme of things you needed a blog post at most, not a whole editorial about DFLewis.

    ReplyDelete
  29. If what I have said is not an argument, then saying "let others decide" or using your magic word "conflate" most certainly is not.

    If you were being humble, are you now saying that your idea was something more than a nut? Was it a satsuma, then? Or perhaps a pineapple?

    In any case I disagree: the review section is a very important part of our magazine. You asked questions in public about our reviewing policy and ethics, and I felt it was appropriate to address those in an editorial.

    I fail to see why it would have been appropriate to address it in a blog post but not an editorial. But it's amusing to see you arguing that your own ideas were so worthless that I shouldn't have bothered to treat them seriously.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I originally extended a hand of friendship on Facebook but you threw it back in my face. Also on TTA today.

    ReplyDelete
  31. You keep referring to my blog posts and how important they were to you. They were of course imporatnt to me, too. But they were couched as tentative. Asking for advice in the face of extreme criticism from your quarter. Have you read my No Blame blog recently? It may be just what that is - a blog post. Nothing more nothing less. Look at it from my position. Extreme criticism from a review on a book (which I have addressed factually on another blog) then extreme criticism personally from an edfitorial. What had I done to you to deserve that? I ask the question again?

    ReplyDelete
  32. (Responding to the post of 23:39.)

    On Facebook I expressed my irritation with your behaviour, but also said that I hoped we could still be friendly. Obviously, your comments since then have made that impossible.

    On the TTA Press forums you had made four posts critical of me and/or the review before I even responded to you.

    Have you read Peter Tennant's post on the TTA Press forum? I mean really read it? There's the course you should be steering.

    ReplyDelete
  33. On Facebook, I said I respected your work etc.. You replied by saying I was stirring a witch hunt, whatever that means. (what's been happening to me, perhaps?)
    On TTA, I gave a sincere appraisal of my position but you came back with about 4 0r 5 sledgehammers.
    I respect Peter Tennant's post. As I said, there is not a great lot between his post and what I've been saying. He also said he was a reviewer, too. His intrepretation was fair, if not exactly what I intended by my actions. We all haave shades of grey, not white and black, as you do with your refutations, blindstatements etc.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I mean we are both angry. Things won't always come out right on fluid forums like this or Facebook. But a studied printed editorial is different.

    ReplyDelete
  35. (Responding to the post of 23:45.)

    John thought your book wasn't very good, I thought your ideas weren't very good. That was all the motive we needed.

    ReplyDelete
  36. John thought your book wasn't very good, I thought your ideas weren't very good.
    ============

    That I can respect. I'd be disappointed of course, but respect.

    ReplyDelete
  37. (Responding to the post of 00:00.)

    Different how?

    From my point of view, an editorial is much less inflammatory. I wanted to address your points seriously, as I felt they were made seriously, but a blog post at the time when you were banging on about the review on your blogs would simply have begun a flame war.

    If you had not been so kind as to alert everyone to the fact - providing us with much-needed free publicity - most people would have not known that there was an editorial critical of you in the magazine. I didn't mention you in its title, for example.

    ReplyDelete
  38. the editorial was decontextualisation and conflation between two blogs, in my view, possibly defamatory. But me saying that doesn't make it true. Just like you saying things don't make them true just because you said them.
    We can only let others decide, I suggest.
    I shall go to the great jury of my peers.

    ReplyDelete
  39. They were tentative points in my No Blame blog that you were addressing as if they were intrinsic truths, I suggest.

    ReplyDelete
  40. (Responding to the post of 00:13.)

    I believe I've already addressed the defamation point above.

    By "decontextualisation" you seem to mean taking quotes from what you had written and discussing them. I don't accept that there is anything wrong with doing that. If addressing an idea that someone has put forward, letting readers consider the original author's own words is entirely appropriate.

    ReplyDelete
  41. (Responding to the post of 00:19.)

    You put various ideas forward; my editorial explained why I thought they didn't hold up.

    I would not expect you to enjoy that, but there's nothing improper about it.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Nothing improper, other than what I've criticised it for above. The points you addressed were different points if taken in the round. imo.

    ReplyDelete
  43. No, there was nothing improper. What criticisms have you actually made, other than chucking around a few of your current buzzwords?

    Now, if someone had written an article criticising my ideas, and I was minded to refute it, I would quote from it and explain why I disagreed with the points that were being made.

    Hang on a minute - that's exactly what I did do in my editorial!

    Look back on what you've written here: have you quoted my editorial even once? Discussed any of its points?

    Or try a different tack. On the TTA Press forums, you said, "Yes, it was a good general point in the editorial." So which bits of the editorial did you agree with?

    ReplyDelete
  44. It was a good general point about bad reviews. But I was taking issue with the fact that the review you were using as part of your thesis was not, in my eyes, just an ordinary bad review. And your unwarranted attack on me.

    Let’s be clear, I’ve started no new threads about this issue. I responded on this thread above to your sudden attack following my comments to someone else. I started a defence of myself on the other threads that you began to advertise your new issue, an issue which had a leading editorial article in it called “How Could a Person Up and Call a Person Wack?!” (Crikey! That title! Is something called that in formal print worth giving the dignity to of commenting on in detail? Like I said, if people want to do so - which I doubt - they may judge this issue based on its evidence.) BTW, I did not even start a new thread on my own blog, but used the old one.

    Please look at it from my point of view, with some empathy. I respect the opinions that underpin JG’s review, I respect him (although I don’t know him and he has, perhaps sensibly, not been involved with me in private or public discussions) – but I did not respect the nature of the review. I won’t go into why again.

    I wrote a tentative blog post ending (at that point) with my own summation of the post:

    “this has been a sort of rambling exercise in real-time as a reaction to a review, not so much that type of public reaction from which all authors are warned to refrain, but more of an open-hearted re-assembling of one’s creative soul against or in the light of extreme criticism?”

    Then, much later, I am faced with something you produce in print that escalates matters greatly. I’m sure you will agree – in eventual hindsight – that you over-reacted to my little read and tentative blog.

    I certainly feel like the victim not the aggressor, although I do accept Pete’s fair interpretative post on the matter, in my own hindsight. But I do not accept your own series of ‘sledgehammers’ and other points most of which I don’t understand.

    ReplyDelete
  45. (Forgive me if this appears twice - but it was there then it was gone)

    It was a good general point about bad reviews. But I was taking issue with the fact that the review you were using as part of your thesis was not, in my eyes, just an ordinary bad review. And your unwarranted attack on me.

    Let’s be clear, I’ve started no new threads about this issue. I responded on this thread above to your sudden attack following my comments to someone else. I started a defence of myself on the other threads that you began to advertise your new issue, an issue which had a leading editorial article in it called “How Could a Person Up and Call a Person Wack?!” (Crikey! That title! Is something called that in formal print worth giving the dignity to of commenting on in detail? Like I said, if people want to do so - which I doubt - they may judge this issue based on its evidence.) BTW, I did not even start a new thread on my own blog, but used the old one.

    Please look at it from my point of view, with some empathy. I respect the opinions that underpin JG’s review, I respect him (although I don’t know him and he has, perhaps sensibly, not been involved with me in private or public discussions) – but I did not respect the nature of the review. I won’t go into why again.

    I wrote a tentative blog post ending (at that point) with my own summation of the post:

    “this has been a sort of rambling exercise in real-time as a reaction to a review, not so much that type of public reaction from which all authors are warned to refrain, but more of an open-hearted re-assembling of one’s creative soul against or in the light of extreme criticism?”

    Then, much later, I am faced with something you produce in print that escalates matters greatly. I’m sure you will agree – in eventual hindsight – that you over-reacted to my little read and tentative blog.

    I certainly feel like the victim not the aggressor, although I do accept Pete’s fair interpretative post on the matter, in my own hindsight. But I do not accept your own series of ‘sledgehammers’ and other points most of which I don’t understand

    ReplyDelete
  46. The title of the editorial is indeed undignified - it is a quote from a song, intended to reflect your undignified reaction to John's review of your book. That fact is mentioned in the editorial; presumably you didn't read that far.

    It astonishes me, that after your dozens of blog, forum and Facebook posts you consider my single, considered response to be an "escalation".

    Of course, I didn't expect you to produce any quotes. Your argument is entirely one of tone and emotion - wounded vanity, at heart - not of reason or literary principle.

    Is it reasonable to give a bad book a bad review?

    Do you believe that John thought your book was a bad one?

    If the answer to both questions is yes, then it seems to me you have little to complain about, other than that John's review hurt your feelings.

    If your answer to either question is no, then we have no common ground on which to discuss these issues.

    ReplyDelete
  47. I think most of your points have already been answered. It is indeed reasonable to give a book a 'bad review' (and have had many), not a cruel *devastation* based on no connection by taste or any other means with the book and some dubious facts. In those circumstances it should be passed to someone else or not reviewed at all, I suggest. That is an honest debateable point and should be debated calmly, as Pete did.

    Yes, I do believe JG thought my book a bad one. I can accept that, of course.

    I am astonished why you don't think it an escalation - a formal editorial of some length in a book, compared to my little read blog and my friends on facebook.

    ReplyDelete
  48. So:

    "It is indeed reasonable to give a book a 'bad review'."

    "Yes, I do believe JG thought my book a bad one."

    Therefore, it was reasonable for John Greenwood to give your book a bad review.

    ReplyDelete
  49. But you seem to ignore my rider to that above. I suppose we shall just have to differ on that.
    best wishes, des

    ReplyDelete
  50. I ignore your "rider" largely because much of it was already addressed in my editorial.

    Indeed, such claims were precisely my reason for writing it!

    You've accepted that it was reasonable for John Greenwood to give your book a bad review.

    Beyond that, your complaint is principally that he hurt your feelings. He went too far, he was too rough, too critical, too mean, too honest, too brutal etc, etc - however you want to put it. The review hurt your pride and wounded your vanity; even, as you said, dented your confidence in your writing.

    That is understandable. It was a very harsh review (albeit one with which, having read the book myself, I almost completely agree with).

    But in repeatedly implying that he deliberately went too far, that there was malice behind the review, you crossed a line. You attacked the integrity of the review, the reviewer and this publication, and continue to do so.

    And your reason for doing that is self-serving, to limit the damage done by the bad review. For the sake of your literary reputation, vanity, sales and self-esteem you’ve been willing to abandon any professional courtesy, any politeness, any decency, any honour, any integrity. I hope you think it was worth it.

    ReplyDelete
  51. You just had to have the last word, didn't you. I hope people will see through all that to really what happened. I myself don't recognise that portrayal at all. But of course I'm biased.
    best wishes again, des

    ReplyDelete
  52. "not a cruel *devastation* based on no connection by taste or any other means with the book and some dubious facts. In those circumstances it should be passed to someone else or not reviewed at all, I suggest. That is an honest debateable point and should be debated calmly, as Pete did.
    Yes, I do believe JG thought my book a bad one. I can accept that, of course."

    But you can't accept that, Des. That's obvious by the paragraph above.
    To backtrack and address your answer to my first post, I have no powder to burn. My first post commented on your blog post. I have no dog in this race. You cannot be in a position as a writer where you have control over reader’s and reviewer’s opinions of your work – and certainly cannot decide a review is written by your preferred reviewer, or not at all, that’s self deceptive. To suggest such rules are applied as you have above, some new writers could find themselves in a position where none of their work is reviewed!
    I feel strongly concerning the idea 'bad' reviews shouldn’t exist. What is the extension of this? That everyone should have the same opinion concerning art, and that it’s all good? I may be treading old ground here - but this is ludicrous, la-la land political / sociological correctness gone stark raving, slack jawed dribbling bonkers.
    So what’s the scale to be? 1=quite good, 2=good, 3=very good, 4=very very good, 5=exceptionally good, 6=outstandingly good, 7= incredibly good, 8=unbelievably good! 9=stupendously good!! 10=crikey O’Riley amazingly good!!! Sounds like we’re grading silver age comics – the ones without missing pages and tears, at least.
    Can you imagine buying any product, from a car to a toaster that only had a good review, only to find it sub-standard? A negative opinion is part of the human condition – we exercise it every day, from deciding what clothes to wear, to what to eat for lunch. I’ve just given one of my t-shirts a bad review, as I’ve chosen another to wear this morning, and I’ve already prejudged the baked beans on toast for lunch as a no-no, having rated the Tuna and cucumber sandwich above them. Yes, I’m now in trouble with Marks & Sparks and Heinz.

    ReplyDelete
  53. *I had to split this post into two parts, as it was over the 4096 character limit*

    Even using this scale above, they’d be artists complaining their work was unfairly rated a 3 rather than a 5, and I can’t imagine myself and my friends discussing books, TV, comics, film or art in the pub on a Saturday using this scale, saying, “Doctor Who last week was a 2.” I know one friend who on occasion calls it crap. Minus 7, I guess.
    I know, your real problem is all to do with the content of the review. I’d say it was unfair to say John (having read the review again) has no connection on taste, and has written dubious facts. When it comes to taste – one word, Marmite. When it comes to facts – well they’re his opinion and he’s entitled to them. John found it out of place to include your voice as a commentary within the narrative – perhaps the story would read better without it? That’s constructive, if you read between the lines. Others have said the plot is difficult to define. I once read something along the lines that if you cannot explain the plot in a short paragraph, then you don’t have one. Perhaps the plot needs a little tweaking?
    I know opinions concerning any artists fare is a minefield – criticizing it likened in some cases to calling their wife ugly, and the artist is instantly offended. Some artists when finding themselves in such a position decide to go out and buy their wife a new dress, or pay for a hairdo. Others are simply content with the apple of their eye, deciding nothing need be addressed.
    So, I wish you would quote the review openly, and counter John’s comments. No, I’m not trying to stir anything up, not trying to bait or cause an open argument between you – I just wish you’d concentrate on the story itself and detail your problems with the review. I think this would be good for you at this time, and help get all this off your chest and move on – perhaps buy that new dress, as this may elevate the apple of your eye to an 11 for you and others.

    ReplyDelete
  54. I appreciate all that Howard, Thanks. That's the sort of debate this should have become. I posted a link to John Updike's views on Book reviewing earlier and it fits with my real-time reviwing practice of some three yearsd now. There is certainly a reviewing school of thought that would have agreed with my:
    "a cruel *devastation* based on no connection by taste or any other means with the book and some dubious facts. In those circumstances it should be passed to someone else or not reviewed at all, I suggest. That is an honest debateable point and should be debated calmly,"
    and thank you for doing that.
    I shall explore your two interesting and constructive posts some more in case I find a need to comment further.

    ReplyDelete
  55. I think if I found I hated 'Marmite' and was given the job to describe it in a sales campaign - I would need to explain to my boss that Joe down the corridor - who is not too keen on Marmite but can eat it - would be better doing that. Why not give me the job of selling 'Marmalade'? Still working on the posts...

    ReplyDelete
  56. I can accept how bad 'Weirdtongue' can seem to be, if people don't like experimental fiction of that particular nature. I expect many more bad reveiws, as well as some more good ones like the other two reviews so far. I expect bad reviews, yes, but not 'devastation' ones. Maybe I am being naive. But that's different from being called 'malicious', I feel. Not that you said that, of course.

    ReplyDelete
  57. Yes, a negative comment is part of the rich tapestry of life. But if someone crosses a line of tone and fact (I wasn't really referring to the intrusive author as a fact), I shall complain in the tentative way that I did. That was all I was doing, I feel.

    ReplyDelete
  58. I did try to counter John's factual points in a blog post, Howard, as well as complain tentatively about the extremely harsh tone.

    ReplyDelete
  59. I think this would be good for you at this time, and help get all this off your chest and move on
    ==============
    I'll search my heart on this, Howard, I promise.
    Thanks agin for your calm points - and entertaining ones, too. :)

    ReplyDelete
  60. Regarding your attempt to resurrect the argument that John shouldn't have been reviewing this book, I can't say it any better than Peter Tennant did:

    "As to whether he should have been reviewing the book in the first place, I'd say that his track record on reviewing people like Justin Isis and Brendan Connell, show that he's sympathetic to writing that's a little bit 'out there'. It's just that you were too far out there, even for him. Regrettable, but those are the breaks. You're going to provoke strong responses from some people, and saying they shouldn't be commenting on your work is unacceptable."

    You were begging for people to review Weirdmonger. You caused a great fuss over the fact that the book hadn't had any reviews. And you said several times that you wouldn't mind if the reviews were bad. At no time did you say that only fans should review your book.

    As we've already established:

    "It is indeed reasonable to give a book a 'bad review'."

    "Yes, I do believe JG thought my book a bad one."

    Therefore, it was reasonable for John Greenwood to give your book a bad review.

    ReplyDelete
  61. Howard, to answer your point. This is was what I said calmy (outside the scope of my criticisms of an extremely harsh tone):

    "I value and dwell upon all opinions. There are three points I felt I should make, but these are only tentative, as many of you know that I am not a great fan of Authorial Intentions outside the text itself and, indeed, I have been a student of ‘The Intentional Fallacy’ since the Sixties.

    Weirdtongue is, inter alia, a treatment of Proustian selves as demonstrated by Marcel in ‘In Search of Lost Time’ (a massive series of novels that I first read in the 1970s and again in the 2000s).

    Weirdtongue has only one accidental typo but, otherwise, no bad grammar or lack of editing. As a separate matter, there is of course prose ’style’ that may or may not suit a particular reader.

    A writer’s apparently overt statements within a fiction may indeed be from the head-lease author, but they could also be from a fictional writer along the theme of ‘selves’ above or a collusive / non-collusive narrator (cf: Stephen King’s methods) and/or a symptom of narrative hierarchies or textures."
    ==============

    Stephen, I think I've said all I need to say on that. And I think it unwise for me to respond to you directly again in view of your last paragraph in your previous post earlier.

    ReplyDelete
  62. This is like being at a funfair, watching the same targets pop up over and over again, regardless of how many times they've been knocked down.

    I'm afraid that unless your future comments have anything new to bring to the conversation, I'm simply going to delete them. There's no point in going over the same territory again and again.

    You've long since passed the point where you can presume upon my patience.

    ReplyDelete
  63. By now you've realised that I'm quite serious, Des. I've given you plenty of time to set out any serious objections you have to the editorial, and now you're just looping back to the beginning, repeating points that were addressed in the editorial as if they were new.

    If it were possible to lock the comment thread, I would. That being impossible, I'll settle for deleting your comments, unless they actually have something new to add to the conversation.

    You're a guest on this blog, and in repeatedly alleging that John's review was motivated by malice you've gone far beyond what any host could reasonably be expected to put up with.

    I appreciate that his review hurt your feelings, but that's all there is to it. Your book got a bad review - stop whining about it.

    ReplyDelete