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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • February 13, 2006


    Amazon reviewers

    Rich Burridge blogs about some bogus reviews at Amazon. The post captures my attention as I'm an Amazon reviewer for over five years. I have always supposed Harriet Klausner, the #1 reviewer who claims to be an acquisition librarian in Pennsylvania, must have a load before the site comes along (around 1995) and just feeds it all at once to the system. How could a human being holding a full-time job produce 16 reviews every week like Harriet Klausner does? That I am able to finish 3 reads like Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling, The Master and Margarita, and Shroud. I claim to be a prolific reader. But 16 books a month? Let's do the math: in order to read 16 books and to review them, a reviewer has to read at least one book a day in order to maintain that reviewing rhythm. The books could be some fluffs or bogus romances that require no critical reading and thinking.

    I question the thoroughness, the nuances, and quality of reviews if reviewers simply knock the books out at this outrageous speed. This simply defies the meaning of reviewing at the first place. Reflections and thoughts, which I scribble in my Moleskine notebook for every read, are conducive to a judicious review. Many reviewers shift to review a pack of gums, condoms, chocolate and other quick consumer items just to improve their ranking, admittedly an inventive for reviewing at the first place. The ranking has a strong tie to status, and identity to the products reviewers review. Nature of Amazon reviewing climate has changed, and unfortunately, so does the authority and quality of some of the reviews. Highly regarded books within literary circle are stigmatized by reviewers who don't even understand the meaning. I rarely pay attention to reviews on Amazon now other than the spotlight ones. I slowly shift the reviews over to my blog, with minor modification to the wording since Amazon claims intellectual property of all submitted reviews.


    Blogger Greg said...

    Personally, I don't review everything that I read (or listen to, or view). I would never get anything done if I did that!!

    2/13/2006 1:14 PM  
    Blogger Wild Reeds said...

    Found your blog after clicking on "The Swimming Pool library", which is one of my favourite books as well. Nice blog to read, very literate. Keep posting.

    2/14/2006 3:12 AM  
    Blogger Oakland Rezident said...

    Go get 'em ! No way someone is reading that much a week. I'm a pretty fast reader at about 40-45 pages an hour but certainly I can't keep that up very much before I'm dying to take a break.

    2/16/2006 9:28 PM  
    Blogger Matt said...

    Ha! Same here, not to mention that Amazon censors some of my reviews. The editor simply replaced words like "homosexual" with "..." I also don't post reviews of popular titles.

    Wild reeds-
    Thanks for the kind words. It makes my day, really!

    Depending on what I'm reading...I surely can't read 40 pages of Notes From Underground or The Iliad in an hour! I knocked Memoirs of a Geisha quitely fast.

    2/17/2006 11:56 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Matt, I'm amazed that Amazon censors your reviews. They'll post nearly anything, including obviously fake reviews.


    5/02/2006 9:24 AM  
    Blogger Matt said...

    I cannot believe Amazon posts reviews of condoms but censored my review on gay literature. I've be very upset with their qusi psuedo orthodox morality - I've been doing less business with them since then!

    5/04/2006 12:53 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Sixteen books a month, what's that?

    How about ninety-six (96!) a day?! Check her review page, it boggles the mind that someone can think people will believe he can read dozens of books daily.

    5/10/2007 8:23 PM  

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