Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Ouch! Honest Review of Losing My Religions

Lyle Lovett: I Got the Blues


Not for me - bad language, far too much detail about the author's sex life, and puerile college humour. Also condescending, with all the links to explain things most readers will already know ... did not finish. 

Yes, fine, OK ... thanks for nothing, mom.

But seriously, I've been meaning to write this for a while:

My first book did well - one of Lantern Books' best-sellers. I still hear from people about it, 14 years later. My second book, without two major organizations (or SBF's millions) promoting it, didn't do nearly as well. Since then, I had figured I wouldn't write another book, as there was no point in simply reaching a subset of the same people.

After the events of Day 29 in Losingmultiple people told me to write again. I resisted until I came up with an idea that might reach a new crowd. As Trish Hall says in Writing to Persuade:

If you’re not telling a story with all the classic ingredients that hold people: love, war, sex, conflict, tragedy….

So that is why Losing My Religions is as it is: tell a story with those elements, adding essays, ideas, and tips (and photos). Of course, the book has been a failure in reaching a broad new audience, but at least it has entertained some people.

To this review specifically (c'mon, you knew that was coming):

bad language 


puerile college humour 

Very guilty
(Although do I get credit for "humour" instead of plebian "humor"?)

condescending, with all the links to explain things 

Hmmm. This one I really don't understand.

No one is forcing the reader to click on links. But since it is an eBook, why not link to the quoted 
song? Or an explanation of why I used the number "42"? Or the website for Adblock? Or an Ansel Adams' photograph? I'm not cherry-picking useful links - those are all links in the first chapter.

I have readers older than me (believe it or not) and much younger. And in non-English speaking countries. So why shit on the links? And why view including them as "condescending"? (Seriously, I'm asking.)

far too much detail about the author's sex life

Or, as I quote Anne in the book:

“I’m telling you: No one wants to read about your sex life!”


A few quick things (#3 being the main one) since I've heard several comments like the one above:

1. Sex sells.

OK, yes, it clearly doesn't sell in my case. (I guess all the girls in high school were right.) But I listened to experts like Trish Hall. The sex in the book is an attempt to write something that will reach more people.

2. I haven't written a bodice-ripper.

There is nothing R-rated or erotic. I don't graphically describe any encounter or act. I don't mention any "dirty parts" or say that my todger got frostbite

3. Sex exists.

Even for me! (Take that, high-school girls!) And I honestly believe what I say in the chapter “Sex is Gross”:

There would be far less anxiety in the world, and much more joy, if we talked about sex more openly, honestly, and respectfully, without shame, without giggles, without machismo. 

I'm not saying the reviewer quoted here is wrong (although I really don't get the comment about links). Clearly, she is more correct than I was about what people want to read. (At least people who don't know me.)

So yes, Losing hasn't reached new people. But I wrote it this way to try. I wrote it to be “unlike anything I’ve read before” and seen as “wonderfully idiosyncratic.” Is that enough?

Seriously, I'm asking.

1 comment:

NonZeroSum James said...

I think you should now do an entire short story series based on your sex life "Matt Ball's Balls and other Teste Tales"