Showing posts with label Bill Murray. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bill Murray. Show all posts

13 November 2018

To Read or Not to Read: the Reviews of Your Books

by Paul D. Marks 

From the truth in advertising department: I did this piece a few years ago at a different blog. I think it’s worth repeating. But the main reason I’m doing that is because I’m having major computer issues and it’s hard to work on my computer. I hope we have these issues worked out over the next few days. Believe me, I’m ready to CENSORED.

And I want to say that I hope everyone had a good Veterans Day and that we actually stopped to remember what it was for.

So, how do I react to negative reviews? 

I call up my friends in the Mossad and tell them to seek out and destroy all negative reviewers in the shank of a dark and stormy night. Oh wait, no, that’s what a producer said he was going to do to me when we got in an argument about a script.

Take 2:

Some people say never to read reviews and that’s probably good advice, and probably what one should do. But it’s hard not to. Why? Because, I’m sure, we all want to have our egos stroked. And we’re looking for the positive reinforcement that says we haven’t wasted our lives working on something that nobody likes. So our expectation—our hope—is to get good reviews for that and other reasons. When we don’t our egos are shattered. And those who say it doesn’t affect them, well, let’s just say I think they’re most likely doing that stiff upper lip thing.

I’ve been gratified by most reviews, whether by professional reviewers or consumers on Amazon and the like. But every once in a while...

Even big stars like to check their reviews. I was on the Warner Brothers lot (though it may have been called The Burbank Studios at the time, now it’s back to Warner Brothers [long story]) one day and saw Bill Murray leaning against a car reading a review of his version of “The Razor’s Edge” (1984) that had just come out (and based on my tied for favorite book along with The Count of Monte Cristo). It wasn’t getting rave reviews to say the least, but as I say above, we all want to be validated and maybe also get some constructive criticism as to what went wrong. And I remember thinking even Bill Murray, with all his popularity from “Ghostbusters,” etc. still must feel the sting of a bad review like everyone else.

Hell, even Bob Dylan doesn’t like the sting of being booed, as when he first went electric and rock from strictly acoustic folk music. Check out this YouTube clip. It’s less than a minute long:



So let’s focus on Amazon reviews because they’re there, for good or ill. I don’t like reading negative reviews, but how I react depends on the review. Not everybody can like everything. I get that. Of course, one is tempted to remind some reviewers what their mommies told them, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” But that isn’t the real world, is it? So for me, it depends on what the reviewer says. Does it seem like they actually read the book? Do they have an axe to grind? Are they offering constructive comments about what worked or didn’t for them or are they just off on some kind of tangent? Did they get what I was trying to say and, if not, is that my fault or theirs?

I got a couple of one star reviews for my short story collection “LA Late @ Night”. And they did piss me off. I had gotten some lukewarm reviews on “White Heat” and lived with them. But these two reviews for “LA Late @ Night” just didn’t make sense to me. These two reviewers, who seemed cut from the same cloth (literally), both hated the book and the stories in it. But their comments made little sense.

One said: “Uninteresting, choppy writing. No plots. I wouldn't waste my time reading this series of books as they are rambling writings.”

Where do I start? With the fact that it’s not a series. Uninteresting, well, that’s your opinion. Choppy, well that’s my style on some things. But each story had previously been published in a magazine or anthology, so somebody found them interesting. No plots, see previous response. Bottom line, I wonder if they even knew what book they were reviewing—But Wait: There’s More. The Kicker is yet to come. But First:

The other crappy review:

“Not that great of stories and the writing is stilted...I didn't even finish them all!”

Oh, where to begin: How ’bout them criticizing my writing as being stilted when their sentence is grammatically incorrect? So maybe someone who doesn’t know proper grammar criticizing my grammar is actually a compliment.

Okay, here it comes. Hold your breath. The Kicker:

Being a glutton for punishment, I of course had to check each person’s profile to see why they hated my book so much. What I saw were reviews for muffin pans, muck boots, kitchen gadgets, children’s books, religious/inspirational books and very few mystery books, and no noir or hardboiled books. So I wondered why they even bought my book…if they really did? Judging from their other reviews I could have told them they wouldn’t like it and would have saved them the time, aggravation and money.

It made no sense to me why they would even read a book like mine. So I had to assume there was an agenda going on. I called this to Amazon’s attention, asking them to remove these reviews, which they wouldn’t. I still think there was some kind of agenda happening here, though I couldn’t say exactly what the motivation is and these are the kind of reviews, totally baseless, that really piss me off. And I know authors are not supposed to say that, we’re not supposed have emotions or respond, but hey, we do.

And here are some other One Star Amazon reviews for your entertainment pleasure, only the names have been removed to protect the guilty.

Reviews from Amazon – yellow highlights and purple comments have been added by me.

Reviews of The Big Sleep: 

One Star, boring 
By XXX/Reviewer’s Name Removed
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase

"The book is a big sleep." (Paul’s comment: Well, some of us who liked this book must just be insomniacs.) 

One Star 
By XXX/Reviewer’s Name Removed
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

"Dated."

Reviews of Crime and Punishment: 

One Star 
By Amazon Customer
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

"Very slow & plodding." (Paul’s comment: That damn Raskolnikov, why didn’t he just get it over and confess? On “Law & Order” Briscoe and Curtis would have had him spilling all in 2 minutes flat.)

Too long 
By XXX/Reviewer’s Name Removed
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

"Long and pretty boring I don't like the old timely language they use in this book I know it's translated from German or Russian maybe but I was bored to tears and there was never any payoff really just goes on and on."

Reviews of 1984: 

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I love a good dystopian but this was just such a ... 
By XXX/Reviewer’s Name Removed
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase

"I have always heard about 1984 being the father of all dystopian novels... I love a good dystopian but this was just such a hard book to read because in the entire story, there is no room for hope." (Paul’s comment: Maybe Katniss from “Hunger Games” should show up and rescue Winston and Julia from O’Brien.) 

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
...must be a book only an English teacher would like. I classify this a worse than "Catcher and ... 
By XXX/Reviewer’s Name Removed
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

"This must be a book only an English teacher would like. I classify this a worse than 'Catcher and the Rye'" (Paul’s comment: Is that a new book, Catcher and the Rye, or is that something you get at Canter’s Deli (or Katniss’ Deli) – or maybe Canter’s and the Rye, or maybe Ham on Rye – h/t Chinaski.) 


~.~.~.

Damn! I’m hungry now. So, overall, you have to take both the good and the bad with a grain of seasoned salt, a quesadilla and some damn good and spicy hot sauce.

***



And now for the usual BSP:


I’m honored and thrilled – more than I can say – that my story Windward appears in The Best American Mystery Stories of 2018, edited by Louise Penny and Otto Penzler, which just came out this week. I wrote a blog on that on SleuthSayers if you want to check it out: https://www.sleuthsayers.org/2018/10/the-impossible-dream.html .

I’m doubly thrilled to say that Windward won the Macavity Award at Bouchercon a few weeks ago. Wow! And thank you to everyone who voted for it.



And I’m even more thrilled by the great reviews that Broken Windows has been receiving. Here’s a small sampling:

Betty Webb, Mystery Scene Magazine:  "Broken Windows is extraordinary."

Kristin Centorcelli, Criminal Element"Although it’s set in 1994, it’s eerie how timely this story is. There’s an undeniable feeling of unease that threads through the narrative, which virtually oozes with the grit, glitz, and attitude of L.A. in the ‘90s. I’m an ecstatic new fan of Duke’s."

"Duke and company practically beg for their own TV show."

John Dwaine McKenna, Mysterious Book Report:  "This electrifying novel will jolt your sensibilities, stir your conscience and give every reader plenty of ammunition for the next mixed group where the I [immigration] -word is spoken!"



Please join me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/paul.d.marks and check out my website www.PaulDMarks.com


10 November 2015

The 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month

by Paul D. Marks

“The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path to Salvation is hard."
The Katha-Upanishad and from The Razor’s Edge by Somerset Maugham

On the 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month, the Guns of August Fell Silent. November 11th was originally Armistice Day, the day World War I ended. It became Veterans Day in 1954.

Several weeks ago, on September 8th, I did a piece on this blog called Noir and the Returning War Vet Sub-Genre (http://www.sleuthsayers.org/2015/09/noir-and-returning-war-vet-sub-genre.html ). At the time I didn’t know my November post would fall on the day before Veteran’s Day. It would have been a good post for today, but since it’s a done deal, I’ll take a different tack this time.

And on October 29th, Brian Thornton did a post on what it means to be a veteran. I don’t think I could say it any better—I don’t think anyone has. You can find it here: http://www.sleuthsayers.org/2015/10/being-veteran.html .

I thought about making a list of books and movies that deal with veterans and there is a brief list at the end of this piece. But instead, I think I’ll talk a bit about one book that deals with a veteran that’s also been made into a movie twice over: The Razor’s Edge, by Somerset Maugham.

This book is tied for my favorite book of all time with The Count of Monte Cristo. Monte Cristo strikes a chord with me because it’s the ultimate revenge story and revenge is a form of justice (at least in some cases) and I like justice. But we’ll leave the Count aside for now.

The Razor’s Edge is the story of Larry Darrell, a World War I veteran who returns from the war a changed man, as most people do. He no longer accepts the shallow and superficial values of his friends. Instead, he goes on a search for a deeper and more transcendent meaning in life. To that end, he gives up the love of his life when she refuses to change or accept him as he’s become after the war.

I related to this book on many levels and in some senses it changed my life, making me see things differently, though I won’t go into all of that here.

Click on link below to view film clip
The first film version, from 1945, starred Tyrone Power as Larry Darrell, Gene Tierney as Isabel Bradley and the terrific Clifton Webb as Elliot Templeton. The other version, from 1984, starred Bill Murray. Of the two I’d have to say I like the earlier version better. It’s my understanding that Murray wanted to do the part and wouldn’t do Ghostbusters II unless the studio let him do The Razor’s Edge, though I’m not sure if the story is true. But either way, I just don’t think I see Murray in the part, he didn’t have the right demeanor, for me anyway.

And just in writing this article, I realized something I hadn’t realized before. The character of Zach Tanner in my new novella Vortex has a lot in common with Larry Darrell, though Zach doesn’t go on a mission to find transcendent meaning in the world, he does come back from the war in Afghanistan a changed man and this creates the conflict in the book. And the character of Jessie, his girlfriend, has much in common with Isabel; they’re both looking for superficial material happiness. I didn’t do this on purpose, but it shows how much The Razor’s Edge is with me on a subconscious level and how much a book or movie can affect someone, even years and decades after we’ve read or seen it.

And now back to the main issue of this blog post, Veteran’s Day. Here are a handful of movies about veterans that I like. There are others, of course, but here are a few that come to mind:

Films:
Americana
In-Country
The Best Years of Our Lives
The Razor’s Edge
Forrest Gump
Born Losers (introing Viet Nam vet Billy Jack)

Noir films w/ veterans:
Fallen Sparrow
Dead Reckoning
The Blue Dahlia
Somewhere in the Night
In a Lonely Place
***
And here is a salute to the men and women of the armed forces:

Click on link below to view youtube video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bThVYvaHY2o

And the Marine Corps Silent Drill Team, which always fascinates me:

Click on link below to view youtube video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2-BEkqOVUo

And one more thing, a couple of lists of places where Veterans can get discounts on Veterans Day:


http://www.military.com/veterans-day/veterans-day-military-discounts.html

http://themilitarywallet.com/veterans-day-free-meals-and-discounts/

***

Vortex is on sale in e-form at all the usual places.

And there’s Goodreads Giveaway for Coast to Coast: Murder from Sea to Shining Sea running for a few more days. Maybe win a FREE copy. https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/161413-coast-to-coast-murder-from-sea-to-shining-sea






*Marine Corp Silent Drill Team photo by Jackie downloaded from Wikipedia Commons.