The subject of mean-spirited reader emails was discussed here recently, along with Amazon "reviews" that barely reach the level of incoherent hissy fit. Coincidentally, a well-known writer just blogged about receiving a nasty email from a reader, and making the mistake of replying, of engaging—just what the emailer may have been hoping for. The exchange got weirder and weirderer, and the author ended up posting the exchange on her blog--but two years later. It bugged her off and on for two years.
In truth I haven’t read the exchange, amusing as it may be, because I am sure it is also utterly depressing to see the contents of the mind of someone who would flail away at an author in this fashion. Even hugely successful authors have feelings. (This happens to be a nice author, too, but that has nothing to do with it. It is a shame to harass someone who is really just trying to make a living writing books, which is akin to opening a lemonade stand hoping to make a killing.)
It got me to thinking, though. Is there anyone out there who would be/could be mean about a long-established master of the mystery genre? An absolute genius? Could they possibly diss my all-time hero, Agatha Christie?
Sure they could! The world is full of all kinds of people, including people who don’t love everything about Dame Agatha.
Here are some reader comments from Amazon.com about some of her books. I have chosen these books more or less at random (they happen to all be set in Devon), but they are acknowledged classics, every single one.
And yet: All these readers gave Agatha one or two stars. When you realize they are talking about the great, the immortal Agatha, you could just weep:
* The ABC Murders: “While the book is not badly constructed and is amusing, it is definitely uninspired.”
* Five Little Pigs: “Though I do not know Agatha Christie's work, but by judging from this book I would think that she was not such a good writer.”
* And Then There Were None: “This book was my first foray into Christie, and will almost certainly be my last.” [NB: This is probably Agatha's best-selling book ever.]
* Evil Under the Sun: “I think that Christie has several novels where the deadline was shortly approaching, or she had just run out of ideas. That's certainly acceptable, but don't bother with a less-than mediocre book!”
* Peril at End House: [Poirot] was excessively demeaning and cruel to Hastings throughout the novel, to such an unreasonable extent that I was mentally urging Hastings to tell Poirot where he could shove his mustaches, and get the heck out of there. [Is this like telling him to put his head up—oh, never mind.]
* The Body in the Library: “….be prepared for a complete disappointment when a potentially great book fails.”
See what I mean? Don’t you feel better knowing how arbitrary this whole “You have a computer, so you too can be a reviewer” thing is?