Blogger and teacher Larry Davidson from Weston, MA had a close look at the reviews of Babel at amazon.com. And like myself, he didn’t like what he saw. And he went on to do what I could never do: review the reviewers, and without mincing his words either.
I’ll reproduce his first few paragraphs here before sending you off to the man himself – who I’ve never met or spoken to in my life, I should add. But is he a friend? You bet.
So here’s Larry Davidson’s blogpost:
As Tom Lehrer famously said, “the reason most reviews on Amazon are so atrocious is that they were written by the people.”
Actually, that’s not quite what he said. He actually said “the reason most folk songs are so atrocious is that they were written by the people.” But it’s exactly the same idea; there’s no editorial eye on members of the general public who write reviews on Amazon, Google, and Yelp. So it’s not just Amazon, but I’ll use that as my example.
Yesterday I reviewed Babel by Gaston Dorren. My review was positive — enthusiastic, in fact. Now of course opinions differ, and de gustibus non est disputandum, so it doesn’t bother me if you dislike a book I like, or if you like a book I dislike. You can even think Dan Brown is a good writer for all I care. But some things about non-professional reviews do bother me. Let’s use the Amazon reviews of Babel as an instructive example. Half of the reviewers gave 4 or 5 stars, so obviously those people are discerning and thoughtful.😉 What we want to do is look at the reviewers who gave 1–3 stars. Maybe they were discerning and thoughtful too, and all we have is a difference of opinion.