I’ve been an avid Amazon shopper since the mid-90s. It started with books, but as we moved into the 21st century it’s come to where I now buy everything from groceries to musical instruments from this Seattle-based behemoth. From the start, one of the biggest differentiating features Amazon offered was its user reviews. I have found those reviews absolutely invaluable in making informed purchasing decisions, and I’m not aware of any other online retailer with a more comprehensive or helpful body of user reviews.
I like to think of myself as a give-something-back guy (in addition to being ruggedly handsome, of course), so I’ve made an effort to post reviews of products about which I had passionate opinions – either positive or negative. The vast majority of reviews I’ve posted have been positive, because I want to champion products that I think more people should be aware of. But over the years I’ll admit there have been a handful of products I’ve felt the need to publicly slam. Today’s post is about one such slamming.
Half a dozen years ago (which sounds nowhere as cool as “four score and seven years ago,” but I wasn’t around back then, and neither was Amazon; nor were Presidents tweeting about women’s clothing lines – but I digress…), I became aware of a new book that was making a lot of waves. It approached a popular topic by using an extended metaphor in what appeared to be a very clever way. Most of its reviews were positive, and I was intrigued enough to want to read it. So, being a lifelong cheapskate, I did what I usually do when I am interested in a book by an author whose work I’ve never read: I looked for it at my public library. They had it, I checked it out, and we were off to the races.
The book started strong. Really strong. I was digging it, and loving the metaphoric architecture the author had created. (And, truth be told, starting to feel the pangs of envy I inevitably experience whenever I encounter a writer who seems to have more game than me.)
But then something happened. The book started to fall apart. The story became tedious and petty, the architecture more and more contrived and gimmicky (which I wasn’t sure was actually a word, but my spellchecker isn’t raising any eyebrows over it. If spellcheckers have eyebrows, that is. Which would mean they’d also need to have eyes. Possibly even noses, for sniffing out grammatical stinkiness – a word over which my spellchecker *did* raise an eyebrow. But I digress again…).
In short, the book turned into a major disappointment. Yet it was selling like hotcakes, with mostly positive reviews. So I did what I felt needed to be done, out of my duty to the clientele of the store from which I buy all my books (and all my ukulele strings, and all my smoked oysters, and all my toothpaste, and, and, and…) – I logged into Amazon and reviewed the book, sharing my candid opinion of the author’s work.
More succinctly, I trashed it. [Read more…]