Anne Rice’s disdain for readers who leave negative reviews has grown to epic proportions lately, culminating in this terrific exchange (that’s sarcasm) with author Jenny Trout, wherein Rice called her a “gangster bully” after Trout tried to explain that defending a site that has been known to expose the real names, home addresses, and other identifying data of online reviewers is not a terrific idea. Rice has a somewhat narrow view of book reviewing, to say the least.
That’s just a small snippet – read the whole conversation on Rice’s Facebook page if you have time and energy – but have something to drink standing by.
I think my favorite quote is,
“Writing is what we do for a living; reviewing is what gangster bullies do for fun!”
No, this is my favorite:
“…notorious gangster thug careerist reviewers who seek to victimize them for sport on Good Reads and on Amazon.
These bully thugs make a mockery of honest book reviewing.“
First, that completely sucks for Jenny Trout. On one hand, Anne Rice’s behavior has reached incredible proportions of asshurt entertainment.
On the other hand, it hurts to have an author whose books you’ve loved call you names and insult you when you’re making a perfectly reasoned argument. As Trout said,
Anne Rice called me a “gangster bully.” High school me is weeping, adult me is crying tears of laughter. I’m so torn.
— Jenny Trout (@Jenny_Trout) April 29, 2014
But we can’t miss an opportunity to remix haterade into fine, fine comedy. As I said to Trout, if you rub some funk on it (TM Evolution), you’ll feel better.
NB: if you’ve never seen the movie Evolution, the scene when they’re trying to get a prehistoric bird to stop terrorizing mall shoppers, the source of “rub some funk on it,” is hilarious. Orlando Jones and David Duchovny should do more movies together:
Anway, back to Anne Rice remixes.
As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I take a look at my blog and realize my writing is so deft
Cause I’ve been reading and reviewing so long,
That even my mama thinks that my reviews are the bomb
But I ain’t never crossed an author that didn’t deserve it
Me be treated like a punk you know that’s unheard of
You better watch how you’re writing and where your ARCs were left
Or you and your books might be found DNF’d
As a frequent re-writer of lyrics, I must say, that is WELL DONE.
I made Jenny Trout a ringtone of the sample of Gangster Boogie from Mama Said Knock You Out, which, if you deliberately mishear the lyrics sounds a LOT like Gangster Bully, Gangster Bully!
I can’t share the ringtone here (I wish I could!) but if you’d like, you can download Mama Said Knock You Out, or the original, extra funky and SO excellent Gangster Boogie by Chicago Gangsters (1975). Gangster Boogie is some fine, fine funk.
I think I need to crank that up and dance all morning.
And as Sunita pointed out, she’s not even spelling things right:
— Sunita (@sunita_p) April 29, 2014
But that did leave the door open for more lyric parody:
Everything’s cool in the mind of a gangsta
Cause gangsta ass bullies think deep
Up 365, yo 24/7
Cause gangsta ass bullies don’t sleep
Damn right we don’t sleep. I was up until nearly midnight two nights in a row finishing a book.
Musical comedy remixes aside (and oh, they’re fun, so I’m not putting them aside for long), what’s particularly sad is that at times in the discussion, Rice makes valid points: reviews are indeed for readers. An author can’t go back and change the book once it’s out, and readers do have a more varied lexicon with which to describe what they did and didn’t like about a book.
I agree – I said as much this past weekend at the Chicago North Spring Fling in my workshop about reviews (which I’m also doing at RWA in San Antonio).
The problem is, Rice’s response is to label the readers whose reviews she dislikes as “gangster bullies” and blame them for the review existing in the first place. I don’t think Rice should like every review she receives, but she’s missing reality by a wide margin by blaming the readers who dislike a book and who are angry and disappointed and say so in a review, and namecalling those who question her support of a website that many find extremely offensive (and whose tactics embrace the very behavior they decry).
ETA: I think authors, readers, even publishers and those who are the public face of different imprints are still trying to figure out how to navigate all the increased connection we have to one another. Used to be publishers sold to retailers who sold to customers – who wrote paper letters to authors care of their publishing house. (I know I’m not the only one who wrote letters to authors and knew how to spell “Dag Hammarskjold Plaza” at age 8.) Now we all talk to each other constantly, on several different platforms. And I think we’re all still figuring out how, especially since those platforms change almost daily (I am looking at you, Facebook).
So, since we’re talking about Anne Rice, I have a message for her, from my very favorite gangster, Nicely-Nicely Johnson from Guys and Dolls:
Anne, please sit down. You’re rocking the boat.