who knew? PW wisdom strikes again

So over at Amazon the cover for TTTT is up, and so is the first official review, by Publishers Weekly.

I’ve talked about the review process before, at length and I won’t go into that song and dance again. The PW review isn’t bad in any direct way; it’s more of a short plot summary with a couple of observations attached to the end. Snark, my agent and editor said when they called to warn me.

Now I’ve had some pretty nasty reviews in the past. Who can forget color by number cartoon caricatures? Obviously I can’t. It always strikes me as funny, when I think of that review. Somebody was trying so hard to be clever, I still get an immediate vision of a graduate seminar.

This newest review declares that while TTTT has some charm, “the novel makes no real emotional demands.”

So I’ve been thinking about that all day. Where do I get my emotional demands? That’s easy: I have an almost seventeen year old daughter. I have a husband and in-laws and good friends. The government is imploding, I find that emotionally demanding, even draining. But books?

If I think about novels I really like (here’s three, at random: Lonesome Dove, Possession, Pride and Prejudice) do I re-read them because they make emotional demands? Why do I re-read them? What about the story and the characters draws me back to the book? They make me think. They make me feel — well sure. What story doesn’t make me feel something? If I feel nothing, then the story doesn’t work for me. The range of feelings I get from novels is large, though. Is a novel that makes me sad better than one that makes me laugh?

Aha. Here we are, back at the culture of ugly argument. The no-pain-no-gain approach to writing and storytelling.

So the bottom line: Tied to the Tracks will not make you weep, or huddle into a conflicted ball of emotions, challenge your view of eternity. It hopefully will make you think about some things and make you laugh. I’m satisfied if I get that far. I’ll leave emotional demands to your loved ones, and the news of the day.

11 Replies to “who knew? PW wisdom strikes again”

  1. I loved the TTTT! I could hardly put it down for wanting to see how things would work out.

    Lately I find myself reading to escape life as I know it. To get immersed in another world, where the joys and troubles are different is refreshing. So I probably wouldn’t pick books that accurately reflect current times.

  2. I had seen that review and wasn’t sure if I should bring it to your attention. I think most people know that reviews are basically just one person’t perspective on something. The reviewer does seem to have a high art/low art dichotomy going, especially in the rather derogatory way chick lit is referred to. But then there is something derogatory about the phrase “chick lit” anyway.
    On a slight aside, are your publishers going to let readers read an excerpt from the book (ie. the “search inside” feature that some books have). Just a question from someone who is really waiting for the book to come out and who might even have to wait longer if it isn’t published at the same time in Australia.

  3. Jacqui: don’t know about the preview/read inside thing, but I’ll ask my editor. Good points, too.

  4. I liked it. Sometimes I think books are kind of like art, subjective. Not everyone likes Pride and Predjudice, much to my dismay! I may not be a professional reviewer, but I really liked the story. I especially enjoyed spending those three days with the characters.

  5. I would have to agree that I’d rather read a book that makes me laugh than one that makes me weep or disgusted or scared. I never read books that scare me. There is already enough scary stuff in the world and in my nightmares; I certainly don’t need more, thankyouverymuch. Escapism is one of the joyous aspects of reading.

  6. Yes, really – do we all need to suffer to be beautiful? I’m finding the “memoirs of pain” culture a downer and try to avoid it. Truly – what is wrong with escapism? If I were completely paranoid, I could say that some people don’t want us to escape from their schedule of events. I say, turn it off, close that book (or newspaper) and find one that fits your own schedule. Not exactly head in the sand, but it’s a coping mechanism, for sure.

  7. “Tied to the Tracks will not make you weep, or huddle into a conflicted ball of emotions, challenge your view of eternity”.

    Well, thank goodness it doesn’t. I work with teenagers every day– I get plenty of the above from them. I sure don’t require it in my choices of reading material. I have to agree with Anne, Danielle, and Pam in that I too look for escapism when I read. I want to “visit” places, times, characters, etc. that are not part of my everyday world. Sometimes, I just need a break from reality.

  8. The last two books I have read are nonfictions, one about the global arms trade and the other about the globalization of “free-market” capitalism. They are some of the most emotionally demanding books I’ve ever read.

    Reality is emotionally demanding. Still doesn’t make it good storytelling.

  9. I just read the review — saw they hit you with the heavy “Chick Lit = Bad” club… I won’t even start ranting about that, but will say it always pretty much blows the reviewer’s credibility for me when I hear that simplistic comment made.

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