The Critical Acumen of Amazon Reader Reviews

Richard Ford’s Lay of the Land:

“After reading several pages of this book I encountered a gross insult to the President. This after other negative references to conservatives. Fine. I chose to return the book and exchange it for a copy of Mark Steyn’s America Alone. Mr. Ford, go sit with the Dixie Chicks.”

Anna Quindlen’s Rise and Shine:

“When Anna Quindlen was interviewed on TV, she said that most people think that their child’s teacher is more important than a rock star. Her book is a nice projection of that view. It is also well-written and entertaining.
I am giving 3 copies to friends as gifts.”

Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss:

“Terrible and pretentious writing. I tried to read this book without much luck. If you have trouble sleeping, this is the perfect sleeping pill.”

Richard Powers’ The Echo Maker:

“Way way too much science at the expense of what could have been a great story about the vanishing cranes. I read a lot of excellent literature but this book taxed my brain and not in a good way. I was sick of all the characters by books end. There was not one redeeming quality in any of them. I simply cannot imagine how this book could win any awards.”

Mark Z. Danielewski’s Only Revolutions:

“ummm…started it…put it down…one of these days ill pick it up…but you really need to devote a ton of time to get thru the upwards and downwards and backwards and forwards… I dont know, Ill take Steven King’s books over these any day.”


  1. I’d like to know what are the criteria that you would regard as necessary both for a reader to review a book and for a review to be published. As regards the reader, is it the academic title, or the QI or what else that counts? And who, among all the Nobel prizes that happen to write here and who find such appropriate metaphors for intelligence (better you don’t lose a chess game, though, or YOU will be labeled as the “lobotomy victim”) has the autorithy to discriminate between what is acceptable and what is not?

    Great minds do not feel the need to show their superiority: it shows by itself. The mediocre ones, instead, put up with their own frustration by pretending to be the smart persons that they aren’t.

  2. Ah, Amazon reviews. Once in awhile I pay attention to them. But much of the time they strike me as perverse. Like some monstrous hybrid of online fan fic and a particularly vile episode of The Montel Williams Show.

    This is funny though — a round-up of one-star reviews of books from Time’s 100 best books of all time list.

    Somewhat related: I got a phone call yesterday from a guy who got caught posting fake reviews of his self-pubbed novel on Amazon. I blogged about it back in May. Now he’s threatening to sue me for libel *rolls eyes*

    Get this: the guy’s also apparently a minister (!) and has taught ethics at a community college (!!). And he wants me to pull my post because (he says) he’s trying to get a job with some newspaper (!!!) and he’s worried his prospective employer will google him and discover he’s got sock puppetry in his past.

    Could I make this up? No. I could not.

Leave a Reply

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