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Friday Fable: The writer and the Goodreads reviewers

You may have heard the old tale, The Bear and the Bees:

One day a bear was rooting around in a fallen log where there just happened to be a beehive. One little bee was on her way home with some pollen when she spotted the nosy bear and stung him on the snout to chase him off.

The bear flew into a rage, swatting at the bee and roaring and thrashing, etc., at which the little bee blasted out a whole lot of attack pheromones, calling all her sisters to her aid, and together they stung that nosy no-good bear a hundred times until he ran away. (Not coincidentally, the bear took a good chunk of honeycomb and larvae with him in his escape, but that bit is not generally included in the fable as it detracts from the moral.)

And the moral is: It is better to suffer a small injury in silence than to cause a hundred more by reacting in anger.

That is a good old tale. But if Aesop were a modern slave to the written word, he might have called his fable, The Writer and the Goodreads Reviewers.

One day, a writer just happened to be loitering on Goodreads when she read a nasty review of her book. “Oooh,” she fumed. “That reader totally misunderstood my masterpiece.” 

Her fingers started tapping faster than her brain could follow. She left a comment on the review saying, “You clearly have no grasp of the literary canon. My heroine is NOT simpering!! And how could you suggest that the hero is an orphan when his mother is right there on page 17? Are you blind as well as dumb? You totally don’t get it. Did you skim it in 15 minutes while waiting for the bus to take you to kindergarten?!?”

When the reader got a message saying someone had commented on her review, she was thrilled. “This social networking stuff is amazing,” she thought as she logged on. “How wonderful to feel connected to total strangers with similar experiences in this crazy world,” etc. 

Her happiness plummeted as she read the comment. “Wow, what a loony,” she thought. “This is a site for readers to offer their two cents,” she replied to the comment. “Your time would be better spent writing another book or perhaps reading a well-written one.”

“You don’t know anything about books,” the writer commented. “Your two cents isn’t worth a dime!” 

“So you failed math as well as English?” the reviewer replied.

The bitter dialogue soon caught the attention of other reviewers who went on to read the novel not so much for a pleasant afternoon’s diversion but more for a methodical accounting of every grammatical error, every idiotic plot twist, every hokey emotional exclamation wrung out of the simpering heroine, and every misuse of the word “sardonic.” 

Wearing a gleeful, not-at-all sardonic smile, the original reviewer posted all the scathing but somewhat hilarious reviews on her Facebook and Twitter and blog, etc., along with the writer’s angry but somewhat hilarious responses. Soon the whole world shared the story and laughed at the writer, who ran away crying (with some fairly decent royalty cheques in hand on account of the hubbub, but again that bit detracts from the moral.)

And the moral is: If you didn’t convince them with your book, you’re not going to convince them with your arguments. 

All to say that, having explored this blog’s possibilities a little and finding my original site wanting, I added a Goodreads widget to it.

(But I really don’t like rating systems, and I think the modern need to rate everything is desperate and insane, not to mention time-consuming. And while it can be fun, it’s not as much fun as playing music or watching So You Think You Can Dance while braiding a rag rug. So my Goodreads entries are as scattered as this blog. Most of what I read is not up there, but everything up there is highly recommended. Unless it’s a classic I read in my youth, in which case it could be idiotic and I just don’t remember.)

I also made the site refreshingly blue.

And that’s all for this Friday.

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