Tuesday, December 26, 2017

For the Love of Negatives

If you think people don't respond more strongly to negatives than to positives, then here's an example. In 2008, I reviewed Hubert Selby Jr's. Requiem for a Dream (the novel) on Goodreads. I didn't like it and made my feelings clear. The book is, in my opinion, all telling with almost no showing, and pretentious on top of that. Selby considered himself above the need to put individual character’s dialogue in separate paragraphs, and preferred such constructions as “Im” and “youre” over “I’m and “you’re.” I’m sure he did these things on purpose, and that makes it far worse to me. But certainly, if people like that sort of thing then have at it. As they say, it’s no skin off my nose.

Interestingly, though, I am "still" getting comments on that review, here at the end of 2017. I got one today. Overall, it has garnered 52 comments, many of them supportive of my views but plenty that responded with personal insults against my intelligence. In contrast, my review of Robert E. Howard's "Sowers of the Thunder," one of my favorite books, has gotten one like and no comments. My review of “The Snow Leopard,” by Peter Matthiessen, which ‘is’ my favorite book, has also gotten one like and no comments.

What is that old saw about which wolf lives, the good one or the bad one? The answer is, the one you feed. I don’t believe we have to avoid negative statements or negative reviews. Folks should make clear if they don’t like something, and why. But I also believe we need to promote what we find good and worthy. That’s why I’ve been doing blog posts about my “favorite” books in various genres—not the worst books in those genres.

What do you love?


Cloudia said...

I love this insight!

BernardL said...

I'm sure you pointed out the negatives in a politely detailed way. Social media trolls flock to anything negative - destroying or ignoring the points made. They're not commenting to defend with logic. They're commenting to sow chaos. You're right about no one commenting on positives - regular folk think 'yeah, okay... thanks' - the trolls streak by with a yawn. :)

Paul R. McNamee said...

I hear you. I don't even post negative reviews for the most part, anymore. If I don't like something, I just don't talk or write about it.

I'd rather spread the stuff I enjoy so that others might enjoy too.

I love lots of stuff. Right now, this week, I've been binge discovering new music and enjoying myself immensely. I grabbed early Sheepdogs albums, discovered a band - The Stone City, dug out a CD I'd nearly forgotten (The Swinging Steaks - country rock) and ordered a small pile of CDs from Amazon with a giftcard. (The CDs were all less expensive than their download MP3 counterpart albums.)

Charles Gramlich said...

Cloudia, thankee.

Bernard, other than referring to it as pretentious, I was polite. Not a nice way to say that.

Paul, I do give negative reviews but try to avoid any kind of personal attack and stress that it's my opinion. I'd much rather talk about what I love, though, like you

G.B. Miller said...

I rarely do reviews of books anymore precisely for that reason. I did a review of a book called "The Butler's Child" and the title couldn't been more deceptive. The book would up being a huge mea culpa for being white and rich, and I said as much while giving it a two star.

While a lawyer from the Midwest agreed with my overall view, another decided to pick a fight over a comment I made about Rubin Carter. While I didn't respond to the insults, I did notice that one of his comments got purged by Amazon. That review was the only one (out of about 35+) that ever got a comment.

Chris said...

I love The Snow Leopard too, Charles.

Charles Gramlich said...

G. B., Folks want you to think exactly like they do. Or so it seems.

Chris, wonderful book.

the walking man said...

Americans as well as a ood number of other populations are and have been living in negative circumstances for a good number of years now. Many are still in a tunnel not seeing nary a glimmer of light beyond the candle they are holding praying no breeze comes to bear.

All commentary is a reflection of the person's inner feeling. People's words, especially the ad hominum insults do not reflect their feeling on the subject, of which they think they possess a certain expertise, but rather their own self identity.

The only commentary I know of that does not abide by this rule would be, for example, newspaper op-eds--written mostly by lobbyists their goal is to foment the discord and sway them who only read the dog whistle words.

Review away, at least you are passionate about what you do and do not like Charles.

Charles Gramlich said...

Mark, you're absolutely correct about the insults indicating people's own self identity. I wish more folks could see that

nephite blood spartan heart said...

I still need to go and read The Snow Leopard, been meaning to for years ever since I first read your recommendation/review - (I must not have commented or liked - but you've made me think about it - I didn't know about it before you - but have since noticed that a passage from the book is beside the Snow Leopard's pen at my local zoo).

sage said...

I loved the Snow Leopard when I read it (35-40 years ago) and I should read it again. It is interesting how we feed on the negative. There are very few books that I could write a negative review of because I have decided if I don't like a book, I don't have to finish it.

Charles Gramlich said...

David, really, that's very cool about the zoo.

Sage, I always tend to finish them, although I may speed read after I decide I don't like it.