April 5, 2005

Sue's Way

Sometimes you send out a book for review, and the reviewer doesn't like it. A decent reviewer will explain what it was they didn't like the about a book. An honourable silence is considered to be the best way an author or publisher can deal with a poor review. Unless you are a small Christian press specialising in evangelical fiction, of course.

Steph, of Steph's Book Reviews, didn't like Leah's Way by Richard Borthelo. Helpfully, she lists some of the things she didn't like about the book:

There are many ways in which a book can be bad, you see: it can be poorly written, with clunky prose and bad pacing; it can be dragged down by uninteresting or badly rendered characters; it can be heavy-handed proselytizing dressed up as fiction. Sometimes, it can be all of these, and more. That's when you get a book like Leah's Way...

...As is common in Christian fiction, the dialogue is painfully awkward, the characters breaking the fourth wall to directly address the reader with long, tearfully earnest soliloquies about their struggles as Christians and their attempts to love God. The pacing is poor, skipping huge chunks of time and devoting too many pages to unimportant scenes in its rush to tell the story of Leah's entire life. And, because this is ultimately religious propaganda, the climactic ending is an absurdly saccharine chat between Leah and her God, affirming their undying love for one another even as she coughs chunks of lung upon a park bench.

Sue Eccleston of publisher Windstream Press was not amused, and chose not the path of honour. She mailed Steph, to demonstrate her Christian values of tolerance, peace, and forgiveness, and eventually lost it completely:

Or are you the typical Gen-X whiner who is completely self-absorbed and sees herself as always picked on, a perpetual victim? Look at yourself. You pride yourself on being a critical bitch, pampered, on a college scholarship that obviously led to nowheresville, you're a failure in life, you judge books not on their merit but on your own prejudicial beliefs, and like a typical liberal you are only tolerant of people who think like you do. Liberals are the most intolerant people on the planet, all the while preaching tolerance. Huh? You picked on Leah's Way solely because your biases predispose you to hate it. That's not a critic, that's a propaganda machine like Goebbels was under Hitler.

And then Ms. Eccleston mailed Ron Hogan of Beatrice, who had covered the sorry tale, prompting a blog entry entitled A Fool Opens Her Mouth and Removes All Doubt. After the ritual fundie-baiting, Hogan did a bit of research:

I did a little digging into Windstream Publishing, Sue Eccleston's imprint, and discovered just why she's so intent on defending the publication of Leah's Way. It seems that Windstream only publishes the one book, and does it from Danville, California...which just happens to be where the book's author, Richard Botelho, lives. In fact, Botelho's also the contact person listed for Windstream in the PMA directory. Looks like the book's self-published--and while the full extent of Eccleston's connection to Botelho is not clear to me**, her unprofessional conduct in support of the book is nevertheless a little less mind-boggling.

(thanks to Red Wolf, who passed this on at a time well past her bedtime!)

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This page contains a single entry by Feòrag published on April 5, 2005 10:39 PM.

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