So remember STGRB? Guess what the latest is on them: they’ve come out in defence of Victoria Foyt’s cartoonishly racist self-published book Revealing Eden, on the grounds that it is unfair to call the author racist, when she has clearly stated she is not. Seriously.
This is a book that includes, among other things, white women forced (forced, I tell you) to wear blackface, black men called “coals” and described as bestial, and a society that is dystopian largely because black people are in charge and white people are an oppressed minority.
I guess I lied by omission. Bad reviewing practices won’t necessarily lead us to Lost Highway. They might just end up here.
The sad thing in all this is that I can actually see where the author is coming from. Reversing the roles so white people are oppressed, with the intention of showing white people what it feels like, is one of those ideas that seems really deep, man, when you’re a twelve-year-old white kid with no experience of the real world. But by the time you’re grown up enough to sustain the effort required to write a novel, you should be grown up enough to realize that you don’t write about important social issues you know nothing about. To quote from another review that’s been controversial lately (though for the life of me I can’t see why), the novelist has a “moral obligation to be intelligent”.
Another thing that everyone should probably keep in mind: you do not need to read something all the way through to review it. A detailed review benefits from a complete knowledge of the work at hand, but the simple question of “should I read it? yes/no” can be answered if you’ve only been through half of it. When I read Lord Foul’s Bane, I finished it out of some sense of masochism, but by the halfway point there was nothing the author could have done that would have redeemed the book. You don’t need to drink all the milk to know it’s rotten, you don’t need to listen to an entire Liszt piano concerto to know that it’s not worth the effort, and you certainly do not need anything more than the back cover blurb of Revealing Eden to know that it is inept racist trash.
ETA: When I wrote this I had heard about, but not seen, the promotional videos for the book (available on its Facebook page). I don’t recommend you watch them—they’re not funny, just faintly sad, like an episode of Seinfeld. But the idea that someone thought this was absolutely a good way to promote a novel is in itself worth a laugh. Maybe just look at the preview stills to get an idea of what you’re in for without actually watching the things.