Monday, March 30, 2009

A bad few months made a little sunnier

It's not been a great few months, in fact this year started pretty badly, with illness and anxiety etc..., and has only got slightly better since now I have a space to write and the energy to actually do it, some of the time.

I was quite upset last week to discover, checking my book's Amazon page, that there was a negative review. Welcome to the real world! I hadn't yet experienced someone talking the time and effort to tell people what he didn't like about The White Road and Other Stories. Already not feeling so strong, I took it quite hard, all those initial urges to just burn every copy and disappear into a small hole. It took the help of a number of author friends, some with far worse experiences to share, to get me to calm down and see that the fact that he wrote at the end of the review " after the hype on the internet and in New Scientist, I was expecting something special" is a good thing - it means there was hype!

Ok, so, this morning's post brought me something to make my day a little brighter. Wet Ink, the Australian magazine of New Writing, agreed to review my book since I hold Australian citizenship. The editor, Dominique Wilson, reviewed it herself, and she said:
"This collection exemplifies everything that is best about the short story. With succinctness rarely seen in the work of someone new to fiction, Hershman extracts the very essence of a moment to reveal the poignant fragility of human relationships. ...Extremes of weather is a recurring theme, as is parenthood, but each story is so different from the next that you are tempted to read 'just one more' until you find you have read the whole book in one sitting....Read The White Road and Other Stories. You won't regret it."
Made my day, that has. Silly, of course, that one review can knock me sideways and another can make me grin like an idiot. I wish I could detach a little, but I can't. If anyone knows how, please tell me.


Lauri Kubuitsile said...

Tania, the best way to deal with stuff like that is to shout at your computer- Hey what do you know!?!

It works for me.

Anyway, you have a truckload of YESs one No is irelevant.

Tania Hershman said...

Yes, shouting at the computer, a great idea! I like it... thank you. And thanks for the "truckload of Yesses", that made me grin again :)

Nik's Blog said...

Wooohoooooooooooo! I am fizzing for you! And the reviewer is right.

As an aside, here's a theory: a negative review is everything we dread everyone will think about our work. A positive one is everything we hope everyone will think about our work. Or something.

Tania Hershman said...

Thanks, Nik! And I like your theory... it's a bit of both, eh, like yin and yang? Each is partly true.

Charles Lambert said...

I still can't hear the words 'spurious and incidental' without thinking of the Guardian review of Little Monsters, which used them to devastating (on me) effect. I wanted to exorcise it by slapping them on the front of the paperback, but was - wisely - talked out of this by friends. Still, the bad ones may stick, but it's the good ones - that count.

Tania Hershman said...

Oh blimey, Charles, those are strong words. As someone who urges reviewers to be honest and balanced, I can't argue against critical reviews... but there are ways and ways, right?? Yes, it's the good ones that count!

Douglas Bruton said...

Those negatives weigh so heavy and the positives drift light as air away from us... I can understand this... it is silly that one can do so much damage when there are so many positive reviews... but I completely understand that it can be like that.

A case for never looking at one's own reviews, I think.



Tania Hershman said...

Ah, Douglas, I wish I were strong enough to not read any reviews, but I am not there yet. Maybe one day I will be.

Charles Lambert said...

There's a kind of economy at work, surely, that a certain number of good reviews can offset one bad one. The trouble is, the number is higher than anyone imagines. And you don't really know what a review's like until you start to read it, though my scanning for negative adjectives gets better by the day...

BTW, Tania, I just had a great response to The Scent of Cinnamon from a Goodreads member, who said he was put onto the book by The Short Review. So thank you and your generous but entirely fair reviewer, Moira Crone!


Hi T
It's a hard one.
As for not reading reviews, I think that's a luxury for the very established and widely reviewed author only.
Us short fiction writers feel lucky to be reviewed at all!
I got a mostly negative one for 'To The World of Men, Welcome', by a fellow Irish writer. I thought it was a pity she was asked to review it as she doesn't write short fiction herself. She basically wanted the book to be a novel. She also 'didn't believe' that an ostensibly happily married male character would kiss another woman. (!?) Welcome to the 21st C, Missus!
I've read the offending review on Amazon for White Road and it strikes me this person is not a short fiction fan in general either. So he is not starting from a place of understanding at all.
Chin up, babe, I know it's hard,
Nuala x

siddharth said...
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Tania Hershman said...

Charles, I'm so delighted to hear that, yay!

Nuala, that's crazy about someone who wanted your book to be a novel, who are these people and why do they agree to review things they don't want to read??!! Thanks re Amazon, he doesn't seem to be a fan of fiction, or short stories, but bought into the "hype", so I should just be grateful to have sold another copy, eh?!

annie clarkson said...

Hmmm, I think perhaps the person who reviewed the book negatively was expecting something else. Not every book is perfect for everyone, and it sounds like he was thinking it was going to be more sciencey.

The Wet Ink review is wonderful, and exactly how I feel about The White road...

Don't let one person get you down, everyone else whose written about it loves it