Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Ridiculous Reviewers On Amazon: One Star Review for Steinbeck's East of Eden

I'm starting a new, regular series here at BHR, called "Ridiculous Reviewers on Amazon." One thing you quickly notice when you start looking at reviewers on Amazon, is that every book, even the most lauded and beloved books of all time, have a coterie of people who gang up to give it negative reviews and one star. Now, subtract the people who are complaining about the fact that it hurt their feelings, that the cover is too garish and who accidentally bought that book instead of another and want to blame the author for it, and  what remains is a bizarre population that not only dislike an amazing book, but who feel compelled to tell the whole world about it.

Now, to be honest, I have some classics I hate. I don't see a lot of value in James Joyce's Ulysses, for instance. But given the number of people who think it's a mind-blowingly excellent book, I'm not going to go write a vicious screed about it on Amazon.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to highlight these every week or so, choosing books I love (giving me an excuse to talk about the book) and my favorite (i.e. funniest or most ridiculous) negative review.

Here's our first one:
East of Eden
East of Eden is, perhaps, my favorite novel of all time. It's the story of three generations of a farming family called the Trasks, and it plays out (over and over) the story of Cain and Abel. It deals with family ties, the struggle to overcome one's sinful nature, the reality of love and the difficulties and complications brought on by    successive generations of sinful people living in a family together. It probably has the clearest picture of the human condition of any book I've read, and it has a hopeful, life-affirming message about choosing to overcome who and what we are to be something (someone) better. It takes place in the early days of the settling of California, and as such pretty much all the characters are farmers and people somehow connected to farm life. I've read this novel probably ten times in the last twelve years, and I'm about to pick it up again. It continually holds something new and fresh for me, and if you haven't read it, I think you should give it a try. In my opinion, it's a better, more powerful work than The Grapes of Wrath or Of Mice and Men (both of which are excellent).

And now for our one star critic. I've highlighted my favorite sentence. You poor deluded soul. Thanks for the anonymous review. I'm proud to include you as our very first Ridiculous Reviewer on Amazon:


  1. That review is mind-numbingly hilarious.

    I wish someone would disparagingly refer to my writing as "(fill in the blank) since The Scarlet Letter..."

    And yes, "East of Eden" is my favorite book of all time.

  2. Sarah V8:21 AM

    Perhaps you could offer counseling to the reviewers you review... in this case, help the reviewer come to terms with the fact that he/she does not live on a farm.

  3. @shawn Yeah. I didn't bother to mention the disparaging remark directed at The Scarlet Letter. I figure I'll find something wonderful in the Amazon reviews for that book as well.

    @Sarah V Great idea! Maybe we could have some sort of exchange program where I culd send that guy to Montana (?).

  4. There are some people who feel that their mission in life is to condemn things, especially things that other people like. East of Eden is a masterpiece. I prefer Grapes of Wrath, (which I consider the Great American Novel) but to each his own.

  5. I must be a sucker for irritating one-dimensional characters. I remember having an argument about East of Eden with a friend who wrote a negative paper on it. One dimensional she may be, but I haven't read the book in a couple of decades and I still remember Cathy Ames Trask as one of the most evil characters of all time. I loved that book.