I don't mind a bad review. I hate to disappoint any reader, but sometimes a hostile rant can make the case for a book even better than the most glowing rave. My book Mad Skills has collected some of both on Amazon, and I consider the rants to be a total validation of the necessity of my work. Crackpots hate all the best books! In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find a literary classic that has not offended lots of crackpots. The problem is when crackpots don't want to be seen as crackpots, and start disguising themselves as reasonable people.
Or even book reviewers.
I've recently gotten two negative reviews from an organization calling itself the San Francisco Book Review (not to be confused with the San Francisco Review of Books, which is legit). San Francisco Book Review, really? Sounds like just the kind of urban, progressive, intelligent forum I'd love to have review my work! So I was a bit surprised when their reviewer, Jamais Jochim, smeared Mad Skills.
What bothered me was not the sloppy, one-star Amazon review, but the fact that the reviewer attacked my book as being both genre trash and anti-mainstream. I'm sorry, what? Since Mad Skills uses genre tropes to critique the shallowness of popular culture, Mr. Jochim's "review" was more than a bit disingenuous. Then he hit my book Xombies: Apocalypso with another self-contradictory review, saying that it was "not a bad book," yet slamming it with two stars and suggesting that anyone with a brain should avoid it.
Okay, something was weird here. For one thing, who hates a book and then immediately goes and reads another book by the same author? You'd have to be a masochist...or have an agenda.
Out of curiosity, I Googled Jamais Jochim, and out popped an alternate name: Tregory Sullivan. I think Tregory must also be fake, but what really caught my attention was what "Jamais Jochim" had written on The Huffington Post. Not only was he making statements in favor of teaching Creationism in schools, he also argued that the Catholic Church was being treated unfairly in the wake of its pedophile priest scandals.
Well. No wonder this guy hates my books. He's pure evil!
But that got me thinking. What the hell kind of an organization wants this guy reviewing books for them? San Francisco Book Review my ass!
And of course when I Googled that organization, I quickly discovered that it has little or no real connection to San Francisco, but is a satellite of The Sacramento Book Review, which in turn belongs to a company called 1776 Productions.
Jesus, if that doesn't sound like some kind of secret right-wing umbrella organization, I don't know what does. Looks like they're expanding their book reviews to Portland next, presumably to make Oregon safe from subversive literature like mine. Sounds nutty, I agree, but here's the capper: The company was cofounded by a guy who did jail time for telemarketing fraud!
I guess Skeevy White-Collar Criminal Book Review wasn't as snappy.
What's funny is that my books are about these kinds of crazy conspiracies. I just always thought I was writing fiction!