Don’t Attack the Sundae


Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.

-Kurt Vonnegut

I really don’t want to disappoint Mr. Vonnegut’s ghost.  No one wants to attack a hot fudge sundae.  When I joined Twitter, I was immediately contacted by a company that wanted me to start reviewing books.  I thought, “This will be fun.”   

I was wrong.  I did NOT know the difficulty of the task.  

For my first review, it was clear, after only a few pages, I would not like the book.  Still, I committed to a task.  I would not quit.  I made my way through the book feeling a great deal of pain as I understood the plight of slush pile readers.  

My seventh grade English teacher once told me, “With constructive criticism, you will go far.”  I dialed back my visceral reaction to the novel and forced my brain into the subjective realm and gave this writer constructive criticism. I think a lot of us sometimes forget, no matter how much we don’t like a book, a person wrote a novel. That, by itself, is an achievement.  How many people say, “I’ll write a book someday,” and that day never comes.  So, I think anyone who writes a novel deserves respect, even if it’s not my personal cup of tea.  

I’d like to think I made Mr. Vonnegut’s temperamental ghost proud.  My review was thoughtful and encouraging while still being honest. 

We are all in this together.  We need to support each other with honest feedback and peer reviews.  The only way to grow as a writer is to be open to the idea that we aren’t perfect and there are things we can learn from each other.  

I don’t know everything.  I’m frightfully new to this whole world.  But, I do know that I don’t want to be a hot fudge sundae.  No one wants to, thus, we must forge armor for each other in order to survive the onslaught of this industry.

  I will continue reviewing, despite how difficult it can be, we must help each other grow and prosper. 

We can not surrender or concede, because to borrow a phrase from Mr. Vonnegut, to stop learning, “is a fate worse than death.” 

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