Blaming Japhy Rider: Memoir of a Dharma Bum Who Survived
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Authors and Their Books > Gary Snyder on Blaming Japhy

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message 1: by Philip (new)

Philip Bralich | 2 comments Comment from Gary Snyder on Blaming Japhy Rider and my response: GS got and read your book. He says: "Pages 207 to 210 are particularly disappointing. I expected better of a Ph.D. Clearly Bralich did not take the fact that it is a novel and not journalism into serious account at all. But worse, he didn't even read the passages of which he speaks. There is no "Japhy Ryder" (please note the spelling) in the real world -- he is a character that Kerouac invented. But even as an invented character, he cannot seem to get the novel straight and makes it seem as though there are multiple parties, multiple events, and many encouragements from the J.R. character none of which are in the book. And then he can't even spell "Bodhisattva." I can onlyl guess that he published this book out of his own pocket. I do feel sorrow for his obvious disappointment with his path of occasional Buddhist practices -- but he does seem obsessed with Allen Ginsberg and that's maybe his problem."

Jann Garitty
Assistant to Gary Snyder

Thanks very much for the response and thanks very much to Mr. Snyder for his time and trouble. He is accurate in many ways and would like to thank him for his candor. I was addressing the misreading or total lack of reading "He*rd" in the culture as much as responding honestly from my own reading or lack of reading. I don't pretend to be knowledgable of the literature, only to have had the experiences I relate. I believe I have been clear about my difficulties with anything not intellectual and the amount of reading I have done. As for the spelling of bodhisattva well honestly I didn't pay that much attention and it seems neither did the editor.

message 2: by Patricia (new)

Patricia  Scholes (patriciascholes) | 49 comments I am currently reading a book I need to review for the author. I really want to be encouraging to this author, but it is not well-written, and I must be honest. He does some things very well, which I want to encourage. Any advice on how to give him an honest, but helpful review?

message 3: by Jane (new)

Jane | 121 comments I recent had the same experience. I told the author the truth with as little meanness as possible. I pointed out exact passages that were troubling to me (not all as I thought that was too much). I also told him how much I liked the concept and hoped he would review and edit and let me read it again. He thanked me and said that others had advised him of the same problems. I really am sorry I never heard from him again. I unfortunately didn't save any information for him so I cannot follow up on my own.

Not too much help for you but I wanted to know I had experienced the same problem.

message 4: by Patricia (new)

Patricia  Scholes (patriciascholes) | 49 comments Thanks, Jane. I'll do my best and be gentle. It's a relief to know I'm not alone.


message 5: by Larry (last edited Jun 08, 2013 09:35AM) (new)

Larry Winebrenner (wmyrral) | 45 comments Patricia, my dear---

You have a responsibility both to the author and to the reading public. If you want to be taken as a serious reviewer, you must tell the truth---but telling the truth does not mean brutality. On the other hand, one does not learn without knowing one's limitations.

When I ask for reviews, I ask that they be honest---even brutally honest is fine with me. I'm a tough old bastard and can take the gruff. I also realize that there is a need of different strokes for different folks. No matter how much one reader may like a work, another may be put off by it.

Therefore, it is helpful to indicate what is preference and what is error. As fine a writer as Steven King is, for example, I would never review one of his books. I just don't care for that genre. That doesn't mean it is poor writing. In fact, many say it is inspired writing. But I'd have trouble sorting my preference from perceived---or actual---errors.

One other point, if a person asks for a review, I don't see how it can be a totally honest review if it is submitted to the author for comment. Every author is going to want 5 stars and a positive recommendation to buy and read. Your responsibility is to reflect your own assessment not the author's.

I had one review sent to me by a kind reader saying she would not post it if I didn't like it. This was a review of a book that had garnered 8 5-star reviews and many more positive comments on the home page. Her review gave me 3 stars! Of course I didn't like that. Spoil my perfect record?

But she had a point about what she liked and didn't like. In the final analysis, could readers believe all those positive comments I had received if no one had an opposing opinion? You see, in her own way she verified the validity of the other reviewers---and helped me see another perspective of my work.

By all means be kindly honest in your reviews. IMHO.

And any review is better than no review. If you are honest, who's to say someone won't declare, "Hey, that's my kind of book. I don't notice that kind of error anyway. I make them all the time myself."

I love you.

Larry Winebrenner
To Steal an Election

message 6: by Patricia (new)

Patricia  Scholes (patriciascholes) | 49 comments Larry,

Thanks for saying you love me. I treasure being loved as one of God's children.

And a special thanks for being direct in your assessment of the responsibilities of a reviewer. In this case, I think I'll write two reviews, a personal one to the author, detailed, showing the ways he can make his writing better, and a public one giving him the three stars he earned and why, and some of the issues I had with his story.

He does some things very well, and I want both him and the public to know what those are.



message 7: by Larry (new)

Larry Winebrenner (wmyrral) | 45 comments Good move Pat.

I still love you.


message 8: by Helena (new)

Helena Schrader | 104 comments Pat,

You're heart is in the right place and your instincts are right. Authors need honest feedback or they can't improve. But criticism should be balanced: praising the good as well as criticizing weakness, and critique should be specific and explained.

I just wish I could get more people to give me honest feed-back before I go to print! If someone finds a weakness in one of my books, then I want to have the chance to correct it before it "goes public." You wouldn't happen to be interested in reading a novella set in the 13th century would you?


message 9: by Peggy (new)

Peggy Rothschild | 54 comments Patricia wrote: "Thanks, Jane. I'll do my best and be gentle. It's a relief to know I'm not alone.


I agree -- you need to be honest. While it's not fun to hear your writing has flaws, it's important. Why else have someone read and review? Hopefully the author will take a deep breath and hear what you're saying. But, if the author is unwilling to make changes to the current text, she might still file away the critique to be measured against future writing.

Best wishes.

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