Monday, July 10, 2017

Flummoxed by reviews

You know, I never really wanted the world to look up to me. I was quite content if it did not look down on me...well, even if it did, as long as it kept the opinions away from my awareness, I was fine. What can be more modest than that - just asking to be left alone? But, no, even that is too much to aspire for, apparently.

Well, you see, I read books (What else does one read? No need for the sarcasm - there are newspapers, cinema hoardings, advertisements, user instruction pamphlets...). Harmless and certainly not an area where I thought I would be facing anyone bothering to look down on me. And then..."Ah! You say you read thrillers and have never read Baldacci? Tch! Tch"; "Hmm! Ok, so you read Ludlum and Clancy and all those potboilers. Fine. Anything better than that?"! (I have said this before? So? You do not repeat yourself, often? No? Well, you cannot expect everyone to be as peculiar as you.)

And then people told me there were such things called reviews. You could read them and get to know what books to read and all. Sort of guidebook to books, you know what I mean?

And, then...

"....if only the author would not keep writing tired old tropes...."

What was that? I would not know a trope, whether tired and old or young and energetic, if it bit me in the nose. How was I supposed to make out whether this book was good to read?

"...the author almost manages to bring to life, with words, Daliesque scenes..."

What the hell was that? I go searching for enlightenment and discover that this Dali chappie was someone who messed around with paints. What had that got to do with books? Oh, you mean it gave the same sort of feeling to read the book as when you see Dali's paintings? Yeah, I feel the same way whether my cousin shoves the scribbling of her dear daughter in my face or someone drags me through the irresistible urge to escape. So, how does that help me understand the book? Am I supposed to be a connoisseur of paintings as well in order to understand which book to read?

I really think it is not as bad as a friend caustically said once, "Reviewers forget that they are supposed to inform you about the book and not about what they know about everything else but the book." He was of the firm opinion that they sought to highlight their own knowledge and not what you ought to know about the book. Not true, I think. It is merely that people feel special when they use the jargon of their profession, they feel 'professional' only when they do it and, as a consequence, they end up writing reviews that only other reviewers can understand. Or, maybe, there are these beings called discerning readers though, to me, it appears as though they will use up all their discernment in just understanding the reviews. I must be wrong, of course, I usually am.

So, then I think perhaps the readers who give opinions will be a better bet in getting to know if a book is worth reading. The process though reminded me of Wodehouse. Writing from America, about the new wave of movie Westerns, which believed less in the six-shooter and more on the analyst's couch, he says that the Sheriff calls in the town badman, psycho-analyzes him and discovers that the reason why he holds up the stage, robs the bank and shoots up the Malemute Saloon on Sundays is because someone deprived him of his all-day sucker at the age of six. I needed to do something like that to find out what these reviews said of the book, too.

For one, "I could not engage with the characters" could well mean, after analysis, psycho or otherwise, that the reader did not like the fact that the female character wore stiletto heels and the male character sported sideburns. I may be averse to sideburns but may not think that necessarily disqualifies the person from being a protagonist. As for stiletto heels...let it be, as it is I get bashed up without having male-bashing added to the list.

And then, "The heroine...she is so sexy, I loved the story". Ye Gods! THAT's like loving the movie merely because Sunny Leone features in it...the sort of movies she features in THESE days, I mean. I know that 'fans' is a word that is merely a short form of 'fanatics' and there are such who will follow their darling star through any trash that they may act in but to have that happen in books too?

Anyway, you will now realize that I am still reading any and every arbitrary book. Look down upon me all you will...I am done with reviews.


  1. So much that needed to be said here, eh? Much to agree with here, speaking as a reviewer who has recently become convinced of his own phony-ness.

    1. Nah! Not you! You are among the few who speak in a manner I can understand and keep your personal prejudices and review separate

  2. A 'realistic' kick to the bums of those Daliesque surrealists!

  3. I was laughing all the way through your post. Laughing at things which I do at the end in my blog, after all.

    1. All credit to you. The ability to laugh at oneself is very rare :)

  4. I am bemoaning the fact that all this while I was just writing such staid reviews..Daliesque definitely seems to the way to go :)