Thursday, July 24, 2008

One man's garbage . . .

In a previous blog life, I wrote Christian fiction reviews. I did this mainly because of my frustration with the lack of honesty in Christian reviews. Something I find ironic. Of course, there's a big difference, albeit a fine line, between honesty and accidental cruelty.

For years, I subscribed to CCM magazine. The reason I finally cancelled (and never looked back) was due to the singular fact that I've never read a review of an album that wasn't deemed "groundbreaking", "a milestone", "a landmark achievement", "a solid effort", and so on, and so on. According to CCM, the Christian music industry managed to string together an unblemished record of great albums.

So, I had to learn to read between the lines. Basically, if the reviewer didn't come right out and say something like: "this is one of the best albums of the year", then the album was probably bad.

Reviews are what they are, but awards should be something else. Awards get to pick from the multitudes and almost guarantee not to "miss".

But . . ., the subjectivity of differing tastes, as usual, raises its ugly head.

Case in point, The Christy Awards. (I would love to win one of those, by the way.) It just sounds good, don't you think. But I digress.

I had once assumed that reading a Christy Awards winner would assure a good read. But, out of the five (that I know of) winners I've read: I loved two, I liked one, disliked one, and couldn't finish one.

*** disclaimer: I'm not saying they're bad books, they just didn't suit me.

But I was surprised that the award didn't equal a sure thing. It's hard enough to get published, much less win an award. In a perfect world, the transitive property should establish that any self-published book passed on by the industry, be inferior to an award winner.

Not true. My friend, Nicole Petrino-Salter's book, The Famous One (available at amazon), is a better read than two of those award winners. At least that's my opinion.

*** disclaimer 2: I'm not saying the award judges were wrong, I'm just pointing out the subjectivy of it all.

Individual tastes are a factor. This INCLUDES when an agent or editor rejects (or accepts) your manuscript. Don't take it personally. Award winners and published authors deserve congratulations. And pre-published authors deserve encouragement and respect.

But that also means that editors, agents, and awards judges deserve the benefit of the doubt when it comes to exercising their individual tastes.

Disagreeing with them does not mean their incorrect. It only confirms that we're all human.

epilogue: I quit reviewing books when I decided to try to become an author myself. I believe in professional courtesy. That's why those books will forever remain nameless. Except the two I loved: River Rising by Athol Dickson and Thr3e by Ted Dekker.

That is unless this post is a breach of courtesy, then I apologize. (Feel free to let me know)

1 comment:

Nicole said...

Thank you from my heart, Dayle.

If I'm not mistaken, Dayle, the judging criteria for the Christy's is fairly strict and detailed which might contribute to the choices the judges make. However, I'm still often surprised at the outcome and even more at what's left off the list of nominations until I learned that the publishers have to nominate (by monetary payment) the books.

If I have nothing good to say about a novel I read, I won't review it. If I like it more than I don't like it, I might review it. The respect thing you explained goes a long way with me, too. There's just no sense in trashing something because of subjectivity. And we can all scratch our heads about the quality of writing, but so often it's boils down to they're published and we're not.