Book Survey! Part 4 of 5

You’re back, huh? Thanks.

Here we go.

Favorite biography?

Wow. I couldn’t even list a biography I’ve read.

Have you ever read a self-help book?

No. My version of self-help is usually to wallow in my own sadness until I get pissed off at myself and go to bed.

This reminds me of a couplet from a Garfunkel and Oates song I really like:
“Let me tell you a secret. It’s called The Secret.”
“Here’s another secret: you’re an asshole.”

Favorite cookbook?

Uhh … the instructions on a bag of gnocchi?

Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?

OK. This survey is getting a little touchy feely for me.

Favorite reading snack?

What? And get crumbs or grease on the pages?

Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.

Sometimes I think Warren Ellis is my favorite writer. Then I find things like Transmet or Nextwave and I go “This guy?” I had different reasons for my surprise on each. Transmet felt like a needle of “Wake up! Look at the world around you! Seek truth and make the world better!” hidden in a haystack of profanity and transgression. Nextwave felt hollow to me. Sure, there was cool action, but where was the emotion? It’s the same problem I have with a lot of Fred van Lente’s work and almost any comic described as “fun.” Yes, they may be fun but what are they saying? It’s the literary equivalent of a Peep. Tasty, sort of, but empty. Put another way, if a hero is always in costume, never getting some downtime, there’s a good chance I won’t enjoy the book.

How often do you agree with critics about a book?

Depends on the critic. I try to follow critics I agree with, so they’re suggestions are more in line with what I may enjoy. (“If you like this for the reason I do, you’ll like this, too” is better than “This is good.”)

How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?

It’s hard. First, I never buy a book I don’t think I’ll enjoy, so I tend to avoid things that far away from my taste. But sometimes a book just doesn’t connect with me.

From there, it’s hard to critique a creative work. Being fair and balanced on the internet is a thankless task. People want extreme opinions. To use the new Captain Marvel series as an example, I could argue that Dexter Soy’s art doesn’t match Kelly Sue DeConnick’s writing and I don’t think I’d be wrong. But it garners more interest when you say “This art blows goats. How did this guy get a job at Marvel? Who the hell put this team together? Steve Wacker should be fired!” You want to start a debate online? It often takes opinions like that, even if they’re false.

Also, people work HARD to put this stuff out. I’ve read and listened to a number of interviews; DeConnick wrote her heart out. She really wants this book and character to succeed. And now that the book is out, she’s going to push it all she can, praising Soy’s art, even if she may not like it. Why? Because the two of them (and everyone else from letters to production) worked hard. It’s your team. And you support your damn team! I’m sure Steve Wacker believed that Soy would be a great match. Perhaps he still does. But maybe he saw the final book and in three months, there will be a new artist that fits better, like Terry Dodson did on the Captain Marvel issues of Avenging Spider-Man. (Let me put in my two cents – with Defenders is cancelled as of issue #12. Jamie McKelvie can swap from one side of the Fraction-DeConnick marriage to the other. After all, he did design Carol’s new costume.)

And last, more personally, I’m afraid that I’ll say something and then have someone pop out of the woodwork and say, “You’re wrong. This is what you’re wrong.” and have them be right. For example, I liked The Dark Knight Rises, but found a lot of it ridiculous. (A prison with a built-in escape route? That you know someone has used before? Really? Wasting time to cover a bridge in lighter fluid so it displayed a bat symbol when you should have been saving your friend? Really?) But when you say things like that, people love to jump down your throat. And some of it I will be wrong about. I don’t want that kind of criticism right now.


That’s part four. Some short answers. Some long.

Come back in a few days for the final part of this very exciting series of posts.

One thought on “Book Survey! Part 4 of 5

  1. Favorite Biography…
    Frederick Douglass? I have to have read one more recently than that, but really drawing a blank. Now I feel like an asshole.

    Have you Ever Read a Self Help Book?
    Fight Club?

    Favorite Cookbook?

    OK getting into slightly more familiar territory. Gonna have to go with The Book Lover’s Cookbook by Shaunda Kennedy Wenger and Janet Kay Jensen

    Favorite Reading Snack?

    Tea or Beer depending on the time of day.

    Hype Ruined Your Reading Experience?

    My favorite book is by Charles Dickens. Hype isn’t really an issue for me.

    How often do you agree with critics?

    A little less than half, I’d say.

    Negative Reviews?

    I’m will Bells on this one. The Internet is a scary place. I think I’d only give an overtly negative review if I were REALLY confident in my position, and even then you want to keep some level of diplomacy. What if the person you’re negatively reviewing finds it and tells everyone you’re a jerk before anyone even knows you for anything else?

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