If You Can’t Say Anything Nice, Write a One-Star Review

An Essay

by Jane Lancellotti

I would like to give this piece a five star review. It was hilarious, razor-sharp smart, well-researched, and thoroughly illuminating. A shocking reminder that even literary masterpieces that have stood the test of time can be trashed by a frustrated or uninformed jackass on the Internet, and the review can have a genuine impact! To think that a person just about to take on Jane Austin or Hemingway could be discouraged by a one-star review! Scary stuff. Thanks for the warning. And most of all thanks for the exceptional wit!!

This is a wonderful essay on the people who are proud to show their ignorance. The last line with the funny spellings says it all. It is for the very reasons Ms. Lancellotti states that I hardly ever read reviews by anyone other than established reviewers.

Ms. Lancellotti has written a wonderfully witty and educational essay on the current status of book reviewing online. As a writer and book blogger, I am stunned by the insensitivity of people to each other, i.e. people they know, and to total strangers online. I would never do what they have done. In fact, this week I wrote to an author to advise that the book he had sent me was somewhat outside my reading realm (a genre I'm not fond of) and although his writing and setting were both beautifully crafted, I did not want to jeopardize his work by giving him a "weak" review. Note I said, "weak," not "one-star" review. I received a lovely reply of gratitude.

I certainly hope that not all of the book reviewers in the world will some day be judged by these "reviewers" Ms. Lancelotti has shared with us. And that we among the writers of the world will be able to garner the reviews we deserve.

Though Jane Lancellotti's essay on one-star reviewers states the obvious, she had me laughing out loud. Good job, Jane. Here's a sack of gold stars. Put up as many for yourself as you want. I'm constantly amazed at how many layers of stupidity one can find in the bright illumination of the "cultural advancement" that the technology of the Internet alleges to present. Like peeling back onion skins, it could take decades to get to the middle, only to realize that all you've managed to reveal in your peeling is yet another layer of skin just that much more transparently unappealing than the last one. Oh, and there's nothing in the middle. There's a big surprise. Poems by Rod McKuen come to mind here but since this is a cudo to Jane, not rudeness for Rod, I apologize to Rod. There probably are some really good reasons to tag one-star reviews on bad writing but, like Jane, without being quite as clever, I'll state the obvious, too. What's the point when your lack of thoughtfulness makes you look dumber than another layer of illuminated onion skin? Thanks for reminding us, Jane.

Thank you, Ms. Lancellotti. You made us smile while you broke the news that something is very seriously broken. Your wit casts light on the witlessness, and skewers the skewed. Through your ironic gaze we realize it is ok: we already have to share the planet with a variety of non-sapient life forms and to that list we add these one-star wonders.


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