How much fun is it to review a book? Why, even zombie seals in tutus can’t get enough. Don’t believe me? “Give me the ocular proof!” say you? All right.
Just now, I picked up a random book lying around the house. It happened to be a sparkly fresh copy of my new novelette, Kevin the Vampire. (I’ve so many of these in my apartment today, you’d concede that picking this volume at random approaches a statistical certainty.) I brought it over to the ordinary, in-no-way-screened-or-coached herd of zombie seals in tutus swim-wallowing through my living room. They were juggling bright colorful balls and engorging themselves on the living.
“Hey guys,” I said, “I have this little book here. I was wondering . . .”
“ReVUUUUUUuuuueeee . . .”
They turned on me en masse, dead hunger emanating from eyes deep-set above their adorable whiskered noses. Broken bodies lurch-paddled toward me, flaky-skinned flippers grotesquely extended in a gesture of abject yearning.
“Mm, okay,” I said, “so I’m going to leave this here and . . . Oh look, it’s already time to board up some windows. From the outside.”
“ReVUUUUUUuuuueeee . . . Bfaeklefjaaaaaaadkheja-PAHGgh!”
The debauched orgy of terrifying animal cuteness that followed would make anyone shudder with joy.
“Cliffhangers at the end of chapters make me want brrrRRRRRaaaaaAAAAAAinsssss . . .”
“Finally, someone (bhrrRRRuaaaat!) says what we all think. Corn-fed flesh taste ghurrrRRRrrrghaghhhh-SPPPAAAaaghk!”
“Like how I like herring. Good but no rockfish. 4 out of 5 KisssptpurrrGREEEEeeeetk!”
“Arf! Arf arf, vaaahhhrrrtrrrrk!” [clapping flippers explode in a disgusting rain of putrefied flesh]
“mGrrreeewtplooooghk! I know it’s just a goofy story about vampires, but somehow it expresses my frustrations and fears about the current political milieu. Not overhandedly, but in the way Godzilla embodied the feelings engendered in the face of nuclear proliferation. You know? BraaAAins!”
The sad thing is, as much as zombie seals in tutus love reviewing books, they don’t have articulated fingers so they can’t work a computer. Also they are mindless flesh-eating drones.
But you have fingers! You are a mindful flesh-eating drone!
Having put out a book recently has awoken me to the importance of reader reviews in publishing these days. Reviews in themselves don’t necessarily make people buy books, but the number of reviews increase the visibility of books, which is one of the most important factors in shaping what you’ll see in the future. So if you feel like the book market is too much of this and not enough of that, reviews are your vote for what should be available tomorrow.
For instance, I just finished reading La Superba by Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer. It’s a novel by a Dutch poet who is very famous in his country, but hasn’t caught on here yet. The story takes place in Genoa, an Italian city which I know nothing about, not even how it’s the place blue jeans are named for. It contains scenes about sad little men who believe they are the source for Harry Potter, old drunks from the secret service boisterously drinking themselves to death, and thoughtful ruminations about longing and love directed toward an amputated human leg in fishnets.
La Superba is one of many contemporary novels from Central Europe that I’ve enjoyed immensely but haven’t even seen anywhere beside the public library where I borrow them. The reviews I put on Amazon and Goodreads might currently be the only ones in English.
Hey, it’s a start.
As I see it, it’s not just about complimenting my favorite authors. It’s about getting more of the books I want.
But if there is anything else you finished reading recently that you are glad exists, use those flipper fingers and leave a few words for that too.