Saturday, July 27, 2013


I got another review of Big Mama Stories at Strange Horizons. All the reviews thus far (two in Locus, one at, plus Strange Horizons) say the stories are a tad bit too didactic, though the reviews are mostly positive.

I mentioned this to my brother. He said, "The stories are what they are. If people don't like this kind of story, they won't like these." Which I thought was a nifty way to describe the book.

There is also a nice and intelligent reader's review at Amazon.

Do reviews matter? They matter to me. I pay attention to recommendations from reviewers I respect, and I pay attention to blurbs by writers I respect.

The next question is, what is wrong with didactic? There is a long tradition of stories with morals. AEsop's Fables, for example. Fairy tales and folk tales can be anarchic, as in trickster stories. They can also have straightforward morals. Be kind of old people and animals, especially if the animals can talk.


Blogger CJDevall said...

The reference in the Tor review to didacticism seems essentially to be bemoaning that you can't just make brief references to historical events from African American history or the longitudinal history of institutional racism in the US in a book. If you didn't take time to really explain the references, reviewers would say they didn't understand all the references and/or you'd need footnotes like Melville- as long as the main text.

I'm not sure this is your failing so much as the state of the readership- a writer cannot assume knowledge of anything three minutes old, much less histories your average Amurrcan was not taught in school and generally has not sought out. To stop writing about complicated things because it presents as somewhat didactic is hardly a solution.

I can count on my fingers the authors who try hard enough to convey complicated historical issues of race, gender, class, etc. to even risk being called didactic. I seek out their work because, even if I do not agree with every little thing they say or how they say it, they are putting that critical work in. This is certainly why I always seek out your work when I hear there is something new out.

7:19 AM  

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