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Monday, February 13, 2012

Another Bad Review!



In the midst of my landmark where I found myself selling units across international markets, I found a bad review for the little volume of the cookbook series, Fruits of the Family Tree. A one-star review: Ouch.

I respect everyone’s right to make their voices heard, and certainly we all have opinions. I don’t expect everyone to love what I do. When someone truly dislikes my work, I want to know why and see if there is anything in their criticism that I can use to improve my process.

After all, remember that it was a bad review that prompted me to put together the little cookbook to begin with. It was a simple idea and perhaps will become the foundation for a larger project as I move forward. All I wanted was a culinary list of the things my ancestors may have enjoyed, ingredients and cooking methods from each of the places my people come from and, failing that, something that I personally would eat based on their influence.

Do you remember that scene on Good Morning, Vietnam? Robin Williams and the late Bruno Kirby are butting heads after Cronauer had tweaked the press conference comments of Richard Nixon and made it all about a physical description of his genitals (on air). Bruno’s character, in his tight-assed way declared that what Adrian had done was not humor. “Humor,” he deadpans, “I get.”

Of course, he did not.

In the intro to the book, and its description, I deadpanned that if you happen to be a white supremacist and a foodie, my book might make you very conflicted. It was this that began my readers’ attack.

Kali is very clear: if you are white or English she does not want you to read her book. Obviously this author has not yet learned that racism is not restricted to whites.” 

I think she missed the section dedicated to England, but that’s beside the point. I want; no I NEED TO defend myself. I don’t mind white supremacists buying my book so long as they realize there’s foodstuff in it that represents a bunch of people of color. I want them fairly warned, that’s all. I am not a complete bitch, for God’s sake!

The next line is priceless:

“…this screed contains a mere handful of completely unrelated recipes, made all the more unattractive by the chip the size of Mt. Everest on Kali's shoulder.”


It can’t hardly be both a screed and a mere handful, but let’s not dwell on semantics. I loved that she used the word screed. That word doesn’t get bandied about much these days and I like that she threw it in there like a tiny hand-grenade. There was something dainty about it. A certain gentility that said "bless her heart" but gave me the mental finger. Passive aggressive but quaint at the same time.

For those of you who haven’t yet bought your own copy of my personal cooking screed, it is a little more than a handful of recipes. "A mere handful" implies around 5 (4 or 6, depending where in the country you live, the average level of education in the general area, and whether it’s croc or alligator country). There are 11 countries of origin and 11 discussions of food. Most of these countries get one recipe, and several have a series of alternatives for the ingredients discussed.  

It is certainly not a Bible of international cuisine, but it is slightly more substantive than a leaflet to the next regional Klan meeting with a map to the swamp…

As for the race card, it’s pretty funny. Am I a racist? Not a card-carrying one, no. Of course, given my multicultural background, being a racist would just boil down to self-hate considering that my make-up includes all three major races.

Have I ever been guilty of racial prejudice? Oh yes. Yes, I have. Anyone who tells you they have never in their lives been guilty of this is lying to you. Prejudice is based on lack of education, a misguided impression based on a negative experience, or a stubborn adherence to bullshit handed down for generations. An intelligent person, nay an adult, outgrows this and transcends it. I believe I have.

As for the chip on my shoulder, I feel compelled to disclose that I have this sexy birthmark over my right shoulder that just gives that come hither look an extra humph!

Buy the ebook if you are interested in a tiny collection of recipes that are very personal to me. It’s okay if it’s not the kind of thing you care about. However, I repeat: if you are a white supremacist and a foodie, this might make you deeply conflicted. You’ve been warned.

2 comments:

  1. I've never received a one-star review, which I see as unfortunate because it means I haven't been noticed (and read) by enough people to warrant that. I don't doubt that my writings can generate at least one one-star review from somebody. I just hope that when (if?) it arrives, it will be as silly as what you've described here, and that I'm able to take it with the appropriate sense of humor.

    I like your take on your one-star review, and agree with your point about everybody having prejudices that they hopefully outgrow.

    (BTW, there's a minor formatting error in your blog post where the formatting from the second quote gets extended to the end.)

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  2. Thank you for your input. My take is that a bad review isn't necessarily the ed of your writing career, but if it's funny all the better. Cocktail fodder, right?

    (I can't see the formatting error you describe here or on mobile, but I'll check the HTML coding for it. Thanks!)

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