META: The Problem of Subjectivity

Tom Russell milos_parker at
Thu Mar 13 09:59:19 PDT 2008

On Mar 13, 9:26 am, tem2 <gfishb... at> wrote:

> When my book got an unfair review from Kirkus, a major review journal
> that libraries and bookstores use to decide what to stock, I had my
> main character write tell them off in an open letter: <<>>

Not to stir the pot here...

Let me say that you're right in demonizing Kirkus for the spoilers,
and that Kirkus Reviews in general is pretty crappy.

That being said, some of the points you single out-- for example,
calling the book "unsuccessful" or calling your main character
"unlikable"-- as being unfair aren't precisely that.  Looking at the

"Though this is thoroughly silly and campy, it is ultimately

it's clear that they're _not_ talking about the book's financial
success, but rather that the reviewer is talking about the silliness
and campiness.  Now, you might disagree with that-- and a lot of your
other reviews might disagree with that also-- but they're not actually
or in any way talking about the sales figures.

Your defense of the unlikable claim (or, rather, Septina's),

"Worst of all, though, was your unprovoked personal attack in calling
me "unlikable." I'm sorry that you don't like me, and I'm especially
sorry if it's because of that time I accidentally filled the inside of
your car with eleven hundred pounds of shaving cream, but are you
really saying that because you don't like me it means nobody else
will? That you've conducted a poll and determined that it's
scientifically impossible for anybody to like me? Because that's what
"unlikable" means.",

doesn't precisely hold water, in my opinion.  When they called the
character unlikable, they weren't saying that it's scientifically
impossible or that others won't like the character; it's that they
don't like the character, in their opinion.

I haven't gotten ahold of a copy of the book yet, and so I can't say
for myself if I agree or disagree with Kirkus.  And, again, I find
Kirkus to be generally useless.

It was a negative review, sure, and it certainly smarts; I'm just not
sure if it was an "unfair" review.

> --Greg

With respect and love,


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