#Series: Let’s Have a Look – Diving Deep Into Components of A Book Review -Quichotte by Salman Rushdie

Welcome back to my ‘Let’s Have a Look’ series. Where I post on a topic or incidence I come across that triggers a need to share and/or respond from me.

 

So in this post, my curiosity was sparked one night as I was checking out an author’s book when I saw him interviewed on TV – Salman Rushdie, to be precise. Well, when something catches my ear, I like to have a look around Amazon for their books, and if the blurb grabs me, I then go right to reviews (See! That’s how important reviews are ) which always give me a better insight as to what to expect from the book.

 

Sure, reviews are opinions, but when you read quite a few, you get a general consensus and better feel of what the book is really about, a better assessment to learn whether or not the book is a good fit for us. Now, there’s always going to be the odd, usually unjustified low star review for a mostly 4 and 5 star rated book, that’s inevitable, just ask an author. But often, those reviews will stick out like a sore thumb among all the golden reviews because often, when that happens, a reader doesn’t care for the genre (of which they should have checked first, again, that’s what real reviews are for) or they may be disgruntled at the seller in actuality because they weren’t happy with their delivery. Or quite possibly, some just won’t always like our books, our writing styles, our subject matter – you get the drift. Reviews are personal and yet, when the majority of them are either high stars or low stars among scattered opposites, that’s generally a good indicator of the happiness factor of the book.

 

So I digress (as usual), but what I was initially getting at is, before I buy a book, I don’t just want to read the author’s blurb, I want to get a feel for what others got out of the book, what they liked or loved or didn’t, to help boost my decision to want to read that book.

 

I love reading reviews, they tell me what I want to know about a book and often help my decision to either read or not read, regardless if it’s free or not. I have enough books on my Kindle right now to last me the rest of my life, lol. I don’t need to fatten it up with books I’ll probably never read when everything on there are all books I want to read.

 

So anyway, digressing again, from reading reviews, I sometimes come along a review that I find so refreshingly honest and somewhat more is not less, and quirky, but nonetheless, an insight or two not usually repeated in other reviews making it all the more genuine. So I thought it would be fun to highlight one of these interesting comments I came across that caught my interest. It was what prompted me to write this post while checking out Rushdie’s books, of which I’m familiar about his writings, but have yet to read one of his books. And after reading several reviews for one particular book I was looking at, I came across this one:

 

This almost sounds like something I’d write, because I find Rushdie’s books so deep sometimes I get lost. I can so relate, especially the highlighted parts I’ll discuss after  ‘Erb’s’ review for Salman Rushdie’s novel, Quichotte.

 

 

Blurb:

 

SHORTLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE

 

Quichotte is a love story of profound tenderness and humanity from a great storyteller at his brilliant best. Wise, beautifully written, as heartbreaking as it is wildly comic, its characters unforgettable, its plot dazzlingly suspenseful, it illuminates our corrupt times where fact is so often indiscernible from fiction.

Quichotte, an aging travelling salesman obsessed with TV, is on a quest for love. Unfortunately, his daily diet of reality TV, sitcoms, films and soaps has distorted his ability to separate fantasy from reality. He wishes an imaginary son, Sancho, into existence, while obsessively writing love letters to a celebrity he knows only through his screen. Together the two innocents set off across America in Quichotte’s trusty Chevy Cruze to find her and convince her of his love.

Quichotte’s story is told by Sam DuChamp, a mediocre spy novelist in the midst of a midlife crisis, and as the stories of DuChamp and Quichotte intertwine, we are taken on a wild, picaresque journey through a familiar country on the edge of moral and spiritual collapse.

 

 

Reviewed in the United States on July 16, 2019

Vine Customer Review of Free Product

“In 1989, I tried to read Satanic Verses, and while years later I sort of got through it, it was at such a low level of comprehension that I should be embarrassed to even use the word “read” in this context.

 

So a few years after that and I was offered this review copy of Rushdie’s new book, and I decided I’m a smart person now, and very well read, and I can certainly appreciate Salman Rushdie’s obvious writing skills as who I am today.

 

The answer remains “no, I can not.” That’s entirely my fault – my interests are nonfiction or fairly straightforward fiction as opposed to experimental or stylistic fiction like Rushdie has generally been known for. No doubt one of his books would prepare me for his style in a slightly more accessible way but I haven’t read it. I probably should give “Joseph Anton” a try.

 

So this reminded me of Marlon James “A Brief History of Seven Killings” that was hugely praised and award winning and that I totally couldn’t connect with no matter how hard I tried. In a similar vein with this book, I tried to start at the beginning, then I tried to start in the middle, and I tried to jump around and I couldn’t figure out what was going on, or even what I was supposed to be thinking.

 

Look – I did not give it any sort of truly honest effort. I gave up. It was too hard, too detailed, too stylized – it demanded an investment from the reader that I am simply not prepared to give. So if you think I sound like you, then you’re probably not going to be the audience for this book.

 

But – if you’re ANGRY at me, and you think I’m a big joke and an uneducated lazy rube – THEN maybe the book IS for you, because you’re the type of reader who will go into Rushdie with your eyes wide open in a way that I didn’t.

 

So I tried, I failed, maybe I’ll try again one day, but this book’s just not for me.

 

I’m giving it four stars because OBVIOUSLY he can write at a supreme quality – I would say every sentence went through ten drafts. Any oblique meaning on his part is totally intentional – he wants this to be an off-kilter Don Quitote experience…so it’s no accident. It IS well-done, but it is NOT for casual readers or the hoi polloi like me.”

 

***

 

My Summation:

..
Now that’s what I call honest, with good explanation about why it wasn’t for them, not that it was a bad book, but not their type of read. Praise was given to the author and a 4 star rating, despite. All round, I think this was a great review. It told me what I wanted to know about the readability factor. And I, like this reviewer, don’t have the appreciation for ‘too detailed, too stylized’, may be brilliant prose from a brilliant writer, but I like meat and heart, analyzing characters and the thrill of a page turner and not having to work so hard to find the meaning.
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So, what do you all look for before purchasing a book by an author you haven’t read before?
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©DGKaye2021
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38 thoughts on “#Series: Let’s Have a Look – Diving Deep Into Components of A Book Review -Quichotte by Salman Rushdie

  1. My process is pretty similar to yours. I read the blurb and the reviews. I generally look for books with a lot of reviews, unless the book just came out. I usually look at the top reviews and the lowest ones to get a broad perspective. Some people give low reviews for ridiculous reasons. Besides the goofy “I don’t like this genre” comment (So why did you pick the book up?😜), the other ones that drive me nuts are the ones who clearly have a political ax to grind and let that affect their judgment. I just finished a fabulously entertaining middle-grade book (a no-doubt 5-star read), and some people gave it one star because it didn’t fit their politics.

    I enjoyed this reviewer’s honest and quirky response.

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    1. Thanks for chiming in Pete. No doubts you search out the way a good reader should search out books. And yes, the authors take a hit from other’s ignorance, way too often. If a book is written on the TOPIC OF POLITICS, and you don’t like the politics, don’t read it! Simple, right? 🙂

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  2. Definitely quirky and honest and not sure if there might not be the odd marg involved… thanks for sharing your process.. like you I check the good and the bad reviews and I agree most of the 1 and 2 star are for delivery or because it was not a genre they usually read.. If there are several low ratings but have constructive comments I will pay attention. ♥♥

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  3. I’ll be honest, I’ve bought books just from the cover. However, most of the time, I judge the cover, read the blurb and read the reviews starting with the 1-stars. They usually provide the needed information I need to decide to buy a book. Sometimes what people complain about is what I like. On average, the 3-star reviews are the best and provide the most accurate information.

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    1. HI Diane. Thanks for adding to the conversation. A good look at cover, blurb and assorted reviews is a good combo for helping us make a good decision usually. I find my investigation barely ever lead me to an unsatisfactory read. 🙂

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  4. Such good advice, Debby – I always have a quick look at some of the reviews. I’m afraid I think everyone has a look at the bad reviews, although I wish that wasn’t true. Toni x

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  5. Nowadays, I usually choose books from reviews and recommendations – like yours. In the past, I used to browse books stores and read blurbs. I used to like the more ‘intellectual’ read where I had to delve through the compexities for meaning. Now I just want to be told up front. I’ve usually done enough hard thinking for the day before I get to read. 🙂

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    1. I totally hear you Norah. Like the review here I used for example, where he talks about the heavy reading he couldn’t get through, yet, never discounted the book. I prefer simplicity myself. 🙂

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  6. Hi Debby, this was very interesting. Certainly an unusual review. I never read reviews before I purchase a book, I go on premise and who the author is.

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  7. Great topic, Debby! TIme is precious, so I select books that I think will deserve a 4 or 5 on the Amazon rating scale. Recommendations from readers I respect, like you, help in the selection process.

    My last book review was based on an author featured on the National Association of Memoir Writers last week. Author and writing coach Bella Carter was engaging in the hour-long interview, showcasing Where Do You Hang Your Hammock? — a book about the arduous process of writing. Reading it was effortless because of her chatty, humorous style, and I submitted a review of just a little over 250 words yesterday. That’s my story!

    I certainly agree that the best way to thank an author is to gift them with an honest review. 😀

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  8. Good post, Deb. I’ve gotten that sort of honest review, where what I wrote wasn’t for the reader and they explained why. I actually apapreciate that, to spare other like-minded readers from being disappointed.

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    1. Exactly my point Jacqui. That review, besides being entertaining, was quite informative, and the one that informed me that I too was not into a heavy read so it helped my buying decision. Reviews hold a lot of influence – wrong or right. 🙂

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  9. I definitely read reviews when I am looking at a book (especially from an author unknown to me), and I’ll openly admit I am swayed by others’ opinions. For that reason, I strive to be totally honest in every review I write. Sometimes, when we know the author personally, we are tempted to write a better review than what we really want and I try to avoid that at all costs. I don’t ever want to lose a friendship, but my honest opinion is more important. And If I lose a friend over a review, they weren’t really a friend at all. Great post, Debby!

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    1. Thanks for adding to the conversation Jan. I’m on the same line of thinking as you. Although, if I didn’t enjoy a book and can’t give it at least 3 stars, I choose not to review it. We don’t like to hurt anyone’s feelings, on the other hand, it’s our reputations at stake when we review a book. If we wrote nonsense or built up an unworthy book, it would reflect back on us and our judgment for reviews. 🙂 x

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  10. I give that fascinating review 5 stars! Lol. What a great example of a review that’s helpful to a reader. I’ve seen reviews of horror books, for example, that give a book one star because the reader hates horror in general. I got a one star review from a reader who said he/she “skimmed” the book and didn’t understand it. Lol. Yeesh. I can relate to the reviewer’s experience – I’ve tried to read some extremely popular fantasy series and just haven’t been able to get through them. I suspect that I won’t be reading Rushdie either for the same reason. Thanks for the fascinating post.

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    1. Thanks for chiming in Diana. Wasn’t it brilliant and informative. It surely helped me decide that I didn’t want to work hard to read that book, but took nothing away from Rushdie’s brilliant writing. As for a 1 star review for your book – one word – LOLOL. You are a perfect example for a multitude of 5 star reviews across all your books and a stupid 1 star non review, but rather, a stupid comment. I could flip through 100 books a day and write stupid reviews too. LOL. ❤ Glad you enjoyed. xx

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  11. Thanks, Debby. It is an honest review, for sure, but not knowing the person and what his likes and dislikes are (OK, they don’t like complicated, detailed or stylized, but those are pretty subjective attributes as well), I must say that I prefer reviews that give me more information about the content of the book, or even an example of the type of writing. I haven’t read Salman Rushdie , but I’d have to think about this one.
    I do check reviews, good and bad before deciding, sometimes, unless I know the writer, but a bad review wouldn’t put me off or vice versa. A bad review might say something that convinces me I would love a book, and the other way round, so for me is more about the content of the review than the actual number of stars, and I agree that usually the middle of the range reviews contain the more accurate information.
    Of course, it is different when I read recommendations from bloggers and reviewers I’ve got to know, as I know in some cases we share pretty similar tastes, so I feel confident following their advice.
    But, every person should review in any way it feels meaningful to them, and it is sure to click with some of the people reading it.
    A fascinating topic.

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    1. Hi Olga. I appreciate your input here, especially as an ace reviewer! And I wholeheartedly agree, I like reviews that offer meat to the review. But in this instance, I found it entertaining and the reviewer clearly states he didn’t get through the book. I used the example because, you’re right, it isn’t that informative about the book itself, rather, the reviewer admits he couldn’t get through it, yet, he doesn’t blame the author’s writing for it, merely his own incapacity to finish the book. ❤

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  12. Great review and helpful. The ones who write a review ‘I don’t like this genre….etc..’ and rate it one star, have a special bin all of their own in my head! I read authors I love without looking at the reviews, but if I am searching for a new read then I will read the latest reviews. My TBR list is too long…I need to tackle this with an action plan… Love you, my unicorn buddy. Great post. ❤ xXx ❤

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    1. Thanks for adding to the conversation Jane. I thought this was a lovely example of someone not trashing an author just because the book was over his head. Hugs and love your way xoxoxo ❤

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  13. Great post, Deb, and what a super honest review!
    Like you, I always check out the reviews before I buy, and this one would clearly tell me, this book is not for me.
    Things I find in reviews that make me click away are if a lot of reviews mention typos and/or grammar issues, and my big no-no is the dreaded ‘cliff-hanger’ ending.
    Aside from those, I use reviews to get a feel of whether the story and/or characters sound like ones I want to invest time getting to know. Thank goodness for reviews, you really can’t get such a clear feeling from the blurb alone.

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  14. Oh my, Debby! I want that reviewer to read Plunge! Very honest and thorough review and the fact that he gave this book four stars without finishing it! That is incredible. The reviewer recognizes good writing, despite not liking the book. I get one-star reviews from people who do finish the book! If it’s just a matter of perosnal taste, I feel the book might deserve two or three stars but a one-star would be an unreadable book. Oh well. I don’t think Rushdie is my kind of author. I work enough off the pages. 🙂

    Like you, I read the blurb and some reviews before buying an item. When it comes to books, I like personal recommendations (you’ve given me many) but usually, I have enough books already and I rarely have time to read. My normal average is a book every two months, but this summer, I’m still on one book in five months…

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    1. Thanks for adding your thoughts Liesbet. I should think with your travel life that your reading time is limited. But I’m so sorry to hear about those shitty star reviews on your beautiful book. I thought it was fascinating, informative and had a lot of heart in it. Goes to show, people can be so cruel to authors undeservedly. And sadly, there are so many ‘trolls’ on Amazon and Goodreads 😦 Travel safe! ❤

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  15. Hi Debby – I do want to read a Rushdie book … I’ll try and get it out of the library and give it a go. I don’t read many novels per se … but this would fit in to my reading genre – as I hadn’t realised that Don Quixote was around at the same time as Shakespeare. I have lots to read here … some novels recommended by blogging friends – one or two positive disasters – that went straight to the 2nd hand book shop; one to a friend as it was about South Africa – but didn’t ring true and had a poor ending. I sort of hedge my bets – but I prefer educational type books about a subject I may not know a lot about – I’ve just read one on Greenland … totally fascinating.

    You’ve done an excellent job here – and taught me a lot … thanks – have a peaceful weekend – Hilary

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    1. Thanks so much Hilary. I’m so glad you enjoyed my review about reviews and with the example I used, tempting you to read som Rushdie. I hope you find one in the library and share with us what your thoughts are when you’ve read. I’m sorry about your finding disappointing books, but it does happen. Take care my friend. Hugs xx

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