'That Dickens Bloke ... What a Total Yawn!' Amazon Customers' Book Reviews

Daily Mail (London), March 22, 2016 | Go to article overview

'That Dickens Bloke ... What a Total Yawn!' Amazon Customers' Book Reviews


Byline: Craig Brown

NOT long ago, a friend of mine received some terrible on-line reviews for his first book. He is only in his 20s, so hadn't been prepared for such a torrent of abuse.

I thought I'd comfort him by sharing some of the online reviews my last book received after it was published in America. Oddly enough, as I trawled through them, I became strangely addicted to the insults being hurled in my direction.

More authors should be aware of the masochistic pleasure to be found in reading dud reviews of their work.

'Total waste of money,' writes someone who calls herself 'Poetry Lady'. Meanwhile Richard D. Storm Sr thinks it 'Boring' and E.A. finds it 'not so interesting nor anything newsworthy'.

Lori A. Lofgren warns: 'I think you may be disappointed.' 'Moderately tedious,' writes T. M. Sell. Someone called simply 'Suz' is doubly disappointed first because it is 'not what I expected' and second because there are 'no pictures'.

My critics aren't just confined to America. 'Very disappointed with this dull book after all the hype,' writes Richard J, in the UK, adding: 'I won't be buying any more books by this author.' I. Bryant thinks that 'Craig Brown's attempt to show what a clever chappie he is has resulted in a heap of boring froth'.

Having sent my friend this little bundle of hatchets, I thought I would broaden my horizons by looking at the online reviews of the great classics of world literature.

My own book may well be a heap of boring froth, etc, etc, but what of Charles Dickens and George Eliot? It turns out that they fare little better. Amazon has a handy mechanism for fast-tracking bad reviews. You simply click on the '1 star' option, and up pops the abuse. Perhaps I should add that all the following reviews are word-for-word true. Many lovers of English literature consider Middlemarch by George Eliot the greatest novel ever written, but not all subscribers to Amazon. 'I found it very difficult to get into this book,' writes A.J. 'The prose seems laboured, overly flowery, and doesn't flow at all'. Declaring it 'a far from enjoyable read', he concludes that it 'just didn't work for me'.

Alison agrees. 'I just couldn't get into it,' she writes, 'it just wasn't for me. I'm sorry, Ms Elliott [sic].' Ezra Macdonald is less apologetic.

'Blimey, this is a tedious book. I must be missing something.' For him, it is 'a load of boring words about some people complaining about each other, and being idiots'. …

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