Them Reviewers, They’re Some Sick Bastards

Jeff VanderMeer • July 30th, 2010 @ 9:35 pm • Book Reviews

(Thanks to all of the guest bloggers for the great ongoing posts!)
So Finch is out in the UK early next month, and so far it’s gotten a great review in Interzone and on Strange Horizons to go with raves in the Washington Post, B&N Review, LA Times, and lots of other places for the US edition, as well being a Nebula finalist and Locus Award finalist.

And then there’s the one that made me really laugh. The one where the reviewer seems to have been writing while he had a lemon stuck very high up somewhere that made him exceedingly uncomfortable and narsty-minded, the Tom Holt one on SFX. It genuinely, seriously made me laugh. Why in the name of all that’s holy would they give Finch to this guy to review? Were they trying to make me cry? The worst part is the cliche emperor-has-no-clothes reference (yep, it’s cause he’s moonin’ you). Well, I guess that means I’ve arrived…again. Or something. Anyway, go read it. And then go buy the beautiful UK edition anyway.

Okay, back to the salt-mines for me. Carry on.

17 Responses to “Them Reviewers, They’re Some Sick Bastards”

  1. Corey Redekop says:

    Well, you cannot please everybody. Tom who?

  2. Kyle Schwartz says:

    Haha! That’s got to be one of the worst reviews I’ve ever read. It’s like some review you’d find on written by a fourteen-year-old who didn’t even finish the book.

  3. Chris says:

    Actually, Tom Holt has written a bunch of nice books. Having read many of his books, I can’t see why anyone would think he would have any appreciation of or insight into Jeff’s work. While he has episodes that are fantastical and creepy and strange and disturbing, they always evolve into something ridiculous and humorous in the end. The humor in Jeff’s stuff (that I have read so far) serves a completely different role in the work. The humor is never there to say, “See, this isn’t so weird, it’s just silly.”

  4. John Coulthart says:

    Yes, well… A friend of mine was reviewing books for SFX a while back and was told he had to temper his writing style (dumb down, in other words) in order to match what he calls the magazine’s “fragile lad-geek house style”.

  5. Drax says:

    Whew! Jeff, did you kill Mister Holt’s puppy? Anyway, that’s my first decent peek at the UK design, and it looks lovely, I want one.

  6. Kyle Schwartz says:

    John, that makes a lot of sense actually. I personally have never read anything by Tom Holt, so I suppose I have absolutely no place in critiquing his writing style to begin with.

  7. jeff vandermeer says:

    I think the other bit that cracks me up, and makes me wonder exactly what might’ve been happening in his life when he wrote the review is starting out with the strong opinion that the book should never have been published. This is kind of an odd thing to start out with, because the book has been published, it was picked by an editor in the UK who did so because he loved it, and the book’s received amazing praise in the US. So….whereas there was a mixed review of Finch at Bookslut that I didn’t agree with but respected, it’s hard in this case to not wonder (1) where was the SFX editor–on vacation?, and (2) what about a text as opposed to its author could so enflame a reviewer as to wish the book had never been born?

  8. Paul Riddell says:

    Jeff, I loved the “emperor has no clothes” analogy, too. I suspect that he feels he wasn’t mooned: he was goatse’ed. GOOD.

  9. Luí­s Rodrigues says:

    Waitagoddamnedminute. The gray caps are nazis?

  10. Luí­s Rodrigues says:

    You know, Heretic is the only named gray cap in the book.

    HERR ETIC, verstanden?

    That makes so much sense now, I think I need to lie down.

  11. Cora says:

    I’ve never read anything by Tom Holt, though May Contain Traces of Magic actually sounds like something I might enjoy given the right frame of mind.

    However, I was an intermittent reader of SFX for many years (I think the first issue I bought was No. 3 or No. 4) and in my experience the tone of that review is typical for the mag. All too often, the magazine was incapable of giving a reasoned negative review and instead resorted to trashing whatever the object of the review was. Add to that feature articles that started with a crack at the sexual orientation of a TV producer, interviews discussing the relative penis sizes of actors, several instances of casual misogynism and a general air of juvenile nastiness and I eventually stopped buying SFX, especially since the high import prices meant I could get a nice trade paperback for the cost of one issue.

  12. Nick Mamatas says:


  13. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    That does seem to be the subtext. Should I write a letter or something? To Holt or to SFX? And I’ll need to think about exactly what level of suckiness I am confessing to. There’s got to be a mushroom Nazi level that’s appropriate.

  14. Lani Rhys P says:

    I am essentially a masochist when it comes to people criticizing my work, although those people generally know how to write much better than I do and their lashings are for good purpose. But this guy is something else. I think he just plain hates you…with a vengeance. Maybe it is because you write Weird. ;)


  15. Nick Mamatas says:

    That does seem to be the subtext. Should I write a letter or something? To Holt or to SFX?

    I think a post here should do.

  16. David Moles says:

    I’m thinking a pro-athlete-style televised apology focusing on the allegations of drug use and Iraqi sympathizin’.

  17. Little Red Reviewer says:

    Yikes! Did that guy even read the entire book? I’m sure he did, but the review reads like he read the first 50 pages or so, then just skimmed the rest of the novel looking for juicy bits, but failing to find the actual juicy bits.

    If he’s never read Shriek or Saints & Madmen, I can see where he’d be uber confused about the grey caps. Withouth some background into Ambergris, he can’t understand the history of the greycaps, the silence, the unease, the fear, the awkwardness. and his other complaints? Dude just doesn’t get it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>