Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Controversial Review?


A recent review of Night Flight created a bit of a kerfuffle. Big Al’s Books and Pals is blog devoted to reviews of indie-writers. It is a great site with a dedicated reviewer and a small cadre of volunteers. Why indie writers? I’ll let Big Al speak for himself in his blog. But whatever the reasons, we indie writers are grateful. The reviewers give critical feedback and constructive criticism. They review greatly varied genres of fiction and nonfiction, are not cruel, and do not denigrate the writers. That doesn’t mean all the books they review are highly rated. It means they are honest and fair. They allow comments on the blog from their readers, which they follow carefully. This blog helps give legitimacy to indie writers. I thank them for that.

The Night Flight review went off the path of traditional reviews and spent some time discussing the issue of lesbians as presented in fiction writing. The protagonists in Night Flight are a lesbian couple. The reviewer seemed surprised that this book was not voyeuristic or soft porn. To quote Big Al: “I wasn’t sure how I would react or relate to a story where the two primary characters were two women in a romantic relationship… Would I find it revolting or difficult to relate, because it is so different from my own experiences?” Big Al found the answer to his concern to be no.

His review of the plot, the characters and story are all positive and he gives the book a high recommendation: 4 out of 5 stars. But it is apparently the reviewer’s comments about lesbian fiction that created a negative impression with one reader in the comments section. Autistwriter states: “There is nothing about the actual book except OMG! Lesbian sex isn't depicted as revoltingly as I expected it to be! I'm really disappointed.” There follows a response by Big Al, but the gist of the exchange is that the commenter misinterpreted the reviewer.

In fact Big Al emailed me and explained that he felt a review that spoke to the fact that Night Flight is not soft porn, but a realistic portrayal of a female couple whose experiences don’t differ greatly from a traditional opposite-sex couple would encourage a wider audience for the book. I agree, and I appreciate the attempt.

Night Flight is not going to break any sales records. As lesbian fiction it is a book with a limited audience. However, I am convinced the book will appeal to most all women readers even though the characters are a same-sex couple. I chose the characters and the story for a reason--to show that all of us are basically the same and can face extraordinary circumstances that we have to deal with. That is what Big Al was trying to say.

So should we be offended that some people may be surprised that we are all more the same than different? No, we shouldn’t. We should recognize the reality of prejudice in the world and be thankful to those who try to rise above.

I urge you to go to Big Al’s Books and Pals and have a look at the site. You’ll find reviews of indie-books of all kinds. I’m sure you’ll find something that will tempt you. And feel free to get a copy of Night Flight if you like suspense, drama and characters you can relate to, whether you’re lesbian or not.