Tuesday, December 06, 2011

It’s not that long, is it?

You know when writers and musicians and directors and restaurateurs and particle physicists claim not to read reviews of their own work? They’re lying. At least I hope they are, because they’d be missing gems such as this, from Amazon reviewer Mary B Jennings of Memphis, Tennessee, who also has firm views on a doll piano and a Harry Potter colouring book:
Tim Footman’s nose is long and he wears a truss
This is the worst biography I’ve ever read. The facts check out, and there are plenty of insightful quotes, but Tim Footman seems determined to come off as a pedantic elitist, and there is no end to his arrogance. He is unsatisfied with looking down his long nose at anybody who likes (or dislikes) Leonard Cohen, but he never misses a chance to slam Cohen for his early lack of success as a poet and musician, his tumultuous relationship with all women in general, and his drug use. Gee, a musician who had a lot of sex and did a lot of drugs. Imagine! Your honor, I suggest we string this man up by the nearest tree! Footman also manages to talk both down and up to his audience, no doubt a remarkable feat, but hardly one that will win supporters. He uses words like “solipsistic” and then, almost in the same breath, explains to us that Sake is Japanese rice wine. In short, this book is not a biography of Leonard Cohen at all, but instead a monument to Tim Footman’s self centered-ness. I want my money back.
Ms Jennings does raise a useful point about the balancing act that all writers must negotiate, between bamboozling their readers and insulting their various intelligences. But am I the only hack who “manages to talk both down and up to his audience”? OK, so I got it wrong for those who know what sake is, but surely she’s being solipsistic (HA!) if she thinks her own personal checklist of knowledge and ignorance is replicated precisely for everyone else who read the book. That said, I must thank her for one thing: from now on, the phrase “a monument to Tim Footman’s self centered-ness” will be plastered on everything, from book to cheese sandwich, that I create. Starting now.


Martin said...

I was amused to read, "Footman is an original writer and thinker who goes well beyond the call of duty, but never slips into self indulgent persoanl, theories..." Heaven knows what difficulties the reviewer may have had with writing 'solipsistic'.

Charles Edward Frith said...

Yet another review-of-a-review blog post after the Brian Sewell gem.

Is this trend also a monument to your self centred-ness?

Vicus Scurra said...

Her next review is of a colouring book. She fails to compare it to your work. I feel let down.

Rog said...

Don't worry Tim. If you put Mary B. Jennings into Google this is the first result.

Rol said...

Surely no good can come of reading your own Amazon reviews? That way lies madness.

Billy said...

Maybe Mary B. Jenning can review the crimes against fathers ebook next...

Annie said...

It's a lovely nose. She was just jealous. And anyway, you know what they say about long noses.

Tim F said...

Never mind the spelling, Martin, feel the *P*A*S*S*I*O*N.

Charles: It only reaches such a tipping point when someone reviews my review of a review, and I review that. Your turn.

I like to think she went to work on the Cohen book with the old felt-tips, Vicus.

Now I'm being criticised from the other side, Rog. Cool.

Think I crossed that bridge some time back, Rol.

You know, I could delete you 848, but you bring so much innocent joy to the world. You are truly the Christopher Biggins of the blogosphere. But what Billy said next.

There's a match made in Hades, Billy.

I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about, Annie, but it is of course entirely true. [discreet cough]

Anonymous said...

Fucks sake.
The Japanese rice wine I mean - for all you thickos who might misinterpret.