Here’s Larry’s review of the forthcoming R. Scott Bakker novel, Neuropath, along with comments.
I’ve only just started in on the novel, but the comments on Larry’s review are very interesting. I generally find OF Blog of the Fallen to post some pretty interesting stuff, and I respect Larry as a reviewer (obviously), but I have to agree with the comments. It’s not really the reviewer’s job to determine what is “difficult” or not for readers. It not only unintentionally condescends to readers, it may put off some people who would enjoy the book by convincing them they shouldn’t buy it.
I would also suspect it’s at times a self-fulfilling prophecy: that readers who are told a novel is difficult will indeed find it difficult, whereas if they’re primed and prepped for it in a more positive way, they may get over that hump more easily. In any event, as a reader, I just want the facts and an analysis of what works and doesn’t. I’ll decide for myself just how difficult or not-difficult a book is. This pre-judging is a way, sometimes intentional and sometimes not, of confining a novel to a narrow readership. Mostly, I just feel as a reader that it’s potentially corrosive to my relationship with a novel, no matter how independent minded I might be.
Thus far, for the record, I don’t find there to be anything difficult about Neuropath at all.
(Evil Monkey: You don’t find this difficult? Jeff: I find it annoying more than difficult. If I were, for example, trying to contact him for an Amazon feature and his email wasn’t on his site, or at least his publicist’s email, I’d probably just go on to the next writer. Too busy to be bothered to go to a “forum” he might or might not check right away. Evil Monkey: I think you’re difficult, VanderMeer.)