Anyone who bills himself as a thinker of thinks has a sense of humor and, a few weeks ago, we started searching for someone who knew how to laugh. Most importantly, we wanted someone (a) with a sense of humor; who was (b) sane; and (c) willing to review self-published writing.
There are very few people who meet these standards. Here’s why: If you’re sane, why in God’s name would you ever offer to review self-published writing?
There’s no upside to it. If a reviewer is honest and loves a piece, everyone will dismiss what they’ve written because, hey, the thing was self-published. How good can it be? If the reviewer is honest and hates a piece, he or she will get nothing but grief from the author and the author’s fans. (This won’t happen with us, though. In order to develop an aggressive fan base, you have to have fans.)
There was nothing on his website to suggest that P.C. had stripped a few gears so we asked if he’d review Frankenstein, P.I. The tale has sold a few copies here and there, but no one has ever shared their opinion with the world at large. We love our story and think it’s funny but we also think Crank: High Voltage is hilarious so our taste is more than a little suspect.
We just wanted some input. Good, bad, or indifferent, we’d decided that even a bad review would be less depressing than no reviews. In hindsight, we’ve decided we could be wrong about that last sentiment, by the way. We could be very, very wrong.
After we emailed Paul, looking for a review, he wrote back to ask if Frankie was really, truly polished and in shape for a review. This is not something a reviewer typically asks an author unless that author is also his own publisher. Clearly, P.C. had already been exposed to the indie world and he’d learned to ask a few questions.
When the review went live a couple of days ago, all he said was, Here’s the review! with a link attached. He didn’t say if he loved the story or if he hated it so, naturally, we realized he despised our words and wanted us to die. Even before we read his thoughts, we knew we wanted to use our experience for a blog post so we asked him why, exactly, he was willing to review self-published writing.
This is what he told us: “I spent a few years reviewing theatrical productions while living in Chicago, and I really love it. I think reviewers can be such a fascinating, useful part of the process (as long as the reviewer is knowledgeable and fair). I’ll also admit that it’s a selfish thing: I’m currently writing a novel. Authors, readers, and anyone else who is picking up my review or your book would be a part of the community. When my novel comes out, I don’t want anyone to ask, ‘Well, why should I pick it up? What has the guy done for anyone?’ I want them to know that I’ve got the authority to write a novel because I read and love literature of all kinds. And finally…hey, free books!”
We get the “free books” thing but, on reflection, this really makes us look bad. Unlike Mr. Cosca, we don’t read and love literature of all kinds. (Ulysses by James Joyce? The Modern Library ranked it #1 on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. Renee threatened to stab herself in the eye if she had to finish reading it.) Plus, we haven’t done all that much for all that many people but, please note, we did put two quarters and a nickel in the March of Dimes jar last year.
Since our initial question was a bust, we tried to relate with Paul on a more personal level. Writer-to-writer, we asked him if he had any “forgotten treasures” hidden inside his word processor. You know, works that he’d written but that had been ignored by the world around him. Kind of like, y’know, Frankie.
He said, “The first full length play I wrote was an adaption of Christopher Marlowe’s Faust.” We had to stop him there. We’re trying to connect with the guy but, seriously, FAUST? He adapted a masterpiece, written during Shakespeare’s time, filled with subtext and riddled with blank verse? This was his hidden gem?
“I did a reading of it that was well-received,” Paul told us. “It had a lot of really great moments and some serious potential. But in the end, it will take a full rewrite to get it done.”
But, once he rewrites it, it’s going to be this hot action piece, The Faust and the Furious, where Police Officer Brian O’Conner has to make a deal with the Devil, as played by Vin Diesel –
And that’s because his version is actually a lighthearted romantic comedy, 50 Faust Dates, where commitment-phobe Henry Roth meets the Devil, as played by Drew Barrymore –
As it turns out, P.C. might like to laugh but he’s just a more serious writer than either member of our team. Always has been, probably always will be.
But can a thinker of thinks enjoy the nonsense that is Frankenstein, P.I.? His review is here.