Reviews and (Literary) Criticism

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Over the last couple of weeks I have received the first two reviews for The Heist. One was very positive and the other was far from positive. It was negative. OK, it was negative. Don’t stare at me like that.

What I found interesting was the different responses I issued to the two scrivenings. The positive review came in second. I read it, felt very happy, re-read it and then mentally walked away. Thank you the Pople Backyard Farm blog. The negative one on Goodreads took me aback. I found myself questioning whether the reviewer was right and that I’d failed at everything I had set out to do.

Had I been wrong to offer multiple character points of view so that individual experiences of the same events contradicted each other, recalling the Akira Kurasawa film Rashomon? Should I have made the story all about the robbery itself instead of the slow, painful wait for the thieving? In the original version, I didn’t even include the heist at all; my beta readers saved me from that conceit.

Then I thought about the story and what it said about people – and what it said about 1960s America. Was it the greatest novel ever written? No, I must confess it is not. Is it good? Is it good enough to justify a follow-up on the surviving characters? Yes, I believe so at this point. Will I use a more ‘normal’ narrative structure? Almost inevitably: yes. Not because of one negative review, but because I’d like as many people to read this bleak tale of criminal folk as possible.

In the months since I finished writing The Heist, I have produced two-and-a-half other novels. Each has been better than the previous, I would contend.

So thanks for the reviews so far for The Heist. I hope I get some more.

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