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26Lies Reviewed (believe it or not)

Three years after it was published, Russell B Farr at Ticonderoga Online reviews 26Lies--

Twenty-Six Lies/One Truth - Ben Peek

Wheatland Press, 2006

152 pages

RRP: US$14.95

ISBN 0-9755903-8-3

Reviewed by Russell B. Farr

This book bills itself as an “autobiography of a man who has been nowhere, done nothing and met nobody”, and with such a low peak to aspire to, accomplishes this. It consists of a number of short pieces, sometimes arbitrarily grouped around the alphabet, that overall form several plot lines. Thrown into the mix are examples of literary fraud.

The strength of the work lies in using the structure to create little moments of suspense while telling essentially uninteresting tales. This ends up being a bit like being fed day-old white bread a piece at a time when you’re not sure if you feel hungry or not.

Twenty six lies/one truth didn’t set my imagination racing, nor force me to get my brain out of first gear. It’s a competent book by a competent writer, but I get the impression it has been written entirely for the author’s own enjoyment.

Wheatland Press have a number of excellent, essential titles in their catalogue, but this isn’t one of them.

--though I suppose calling it a review might be a little kind.

Years ago, if I remember right, Ben Payne told me of a conversation he had with Farr, deep in the days when the Australian Spec Fic Scene used to get in an uproar every time I said anything slightly critical about their work, or their awards, or perhaps even the socks they wore. Anyhow, Payne said that Farr planned to write a scathing review of 26Lies, to let loose on it--it's been a while, so I'm not real sure on the details now, but at any rate, here it is, that piece of venom building in the back of Russell B. Farr's throat since 2006.

*Gently pats Russell on the head*

There, there.




Jan. 18th, 2009 03:26 am (UTC)
Maybe, and I know this is a bit of a stretch for you, but maybe as a reviewer, Russell really didn't like your book and was then obliged, as a reviewer, to write that he really didn't like your book.

This isn't directly aimed at you, but I for one am getting really fucking sick and tired of writers taking potshots at reviews of their work just because the reviewer or critic didn't like what they wrote. TTFU and do what writers do - write stuff. Don't whine about whether person X or person Y didn't like the work - they're just doing their job.
Jan. 18th, 2009 03:49 am (UTC)
i don't really care if he writes a scathing review or not; but this isn't scathing, nor a review. its an attempted slam on a book three years old--the real question is why bother, the next question is why not actually write a proper review that takes the book, the work, even me, but at least be intelligent about it.

but hey, to each there own. if you think this is a proper review, power to you, i guess.
Jan. 18th, 2009 04:02 am (UTC)
Well Ticonderoga has a massive backlog of review material, based on extended delays in putting up the site, so I guess Russell would rather give everything a review than just not comment on all the books he'd otherwise miss.

More power to him. It's a valid choice, and it's not like there's a statute of limitations on reviews.

I can understand how the review would put your nose out of joint. It would put mine out of joint if I'd written the book. But the business of writing means you don't argue with the critic like you're doing. Whatever Russell's review is like, and whether it's a good review or a bad one, fair or unfair, arguing and complaining about it online just makes you look cheap and petty. Suggesting it's part of some personal vendetta against you makes it look like you can't take criticism.

Thanks to your complaint here, I suspect ten times more people will read Russell's review than if you'd just done the professional thing and ignored it.

You have an alarming tendency to try and make everything about you, as if you're some kind of bad boy of Australian science fiction, when in fact you're arguing yourself into irrelevance. If you want to be a professional writer, start behaving in a professional manner. If you don't feel Russell is reviewing in a professional manner, then leave him to work that out or simply to have his readers abandon him in droves - just like a lot of potential readers may be abandoning you by the way you sometimes act here. Look at the way you treated Jonathan Strahan in your webcomic, for fuck's sake.

Either behave professionally, or stop trying to write in any kind of public arena. It cheapens you to try to do both.
Jan. 18th, 2009 05:01 am (UTC)
yeah, yeah, yeah.

it's funny, man, how your version of professionalism is code for 'don't stay anything, just be quiet and hidden and keep your opinions to yourself.' thanks, man. well appreicated. however, i'm just going to keep living how i like, saying what i want, and if in the end that means that people get a little annoyed, so be it. out of us here, you seem more pissed than me--that might be worth giving some thought too. me, i just took a bad review and had a laugh by making a joke.

but then he's your friend, innit he? maybe strahan, too, but that was just a side shot. at any rate, i wouldn't want to suggest that this public like dressing down on me--you're doing well, btw, i'm working on being professional, i think i might buy a tie--is influenced by that now, would i?
Jan. 18th, 2009 09:07 am (UTC)
I wasn't suggesting you keep your opinions to yourself, I was suggesting you keep your opinions to yourself about reviews of your work. I just really don't think it looks good in any circumstances. But I have said my piece about that above, and obviously it's your blog and you're very welcome to write what you like here.

Have opinions about anything you like, for sure, and nine times out of ten I really value what you write on this blog and read it regularly, but in this case it overstepped the mark and hit a nerve in me that people seem to be hitting a lot lately. I wound up blogging about the issue separately straight afterwards, because it seems to be something that's happening more and more.

And to be fair and honest, yes I am a friend of both Russell and Jonathan. But my above comments still stand whether Russell's my friend or not.
Jan. 18th, 2009 10:03 am (UTC)
that's fair enough, man. i know what it's like to get the nerve hit, so it's cool.

i link all reviews on the blog, good and bad that come by me. but on this, we'll have to differ, for while i usually don't say much about bad reviews--honestly, they don't bother me--my opinion of this is that it isn't a review at all, but three paragraphs of some weak assed out of date whatever. at which case, i reckon i'm free to do as i please.

but not everyone's going to follow that, so it's cool. just differing opinions on this.

however, i'll stop and pause for one thing, possibly because i got the door for it and i figure why not? but the strahan thing for savannah was a tough call, cause i knew it'd piss folk off and do me no favours. but contextually, it was what worked for the comic: we'd done cock boy, cas' ex-girlfriend, him sending snake to the hospital, dj's drug issues, dee's family thing, and more. there was a lot of pieces in which people were taken on in some form or another, cock boy being the most popular. within the context of the comic, it was a perfect fit, which is why it got picked up. my friends and i, we're somewhat antagonist, and we kick back on anyone no matter the slight. i tried to work it so the parts revealed the way all this shit affects me, thus giving it a second part outside the usual gag aspect; in hindsight, i reckon i went on one too many weeks for it for it to of worked as well as it should have, but i stil stand behind the fact that contextually it fit within the comic. a lot of people might think i picked it for the easy mark it offered and sure, it didn't hurt, but it wasn't the reason.

anyhow, either way, no real hassle. guess on this little post we'll go our seperate ways on things, but otherwise, no harm, no foul, and probably won't be the last time.
(no subject) - robinpen - Jan. 18th, 2009 10:27 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - benpeek - Jan. 18th, 2009 12:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - angriest - Jan. 18th, 2009 11:48 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - benpeek - Jan. 18th, 2009 12:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 18th, 2009 10:59 am (UTC)
Was this kind of uncalled for?
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - robinpen - Jan. 18th, 2009 11:06 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 18th, 2009 11:52 am (UTC)
Ain't that the truth.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - angriest - Jan. 18th, 2009 12:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 18th, 2009 11:59 am (UTC)
If you're referring to my little bio here on LJ under "userinfo", it was something I wrote off the top of my head and in a self-depreciating mood. Never thought twice about it until now, but hey maybe you have a point. I might go and edit it.

What it has to do with this conversation here eludes me a bit, unless you're extending "I developed some stuff that a TV network didn't want, and it depressed me at the time" to be the equivalent of highlighting and criticising a negative review of my work - in which case I can just about see your point, but think it's a fairly long bow to draw.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - robinpen - Jan. 18th, 2009 01:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 18th, 2009 11:52 am (UTC)
As I've noted below, I don't think it's a particularly insightful review, but that's never been my point - I still maintain that it isn't the place of the author to challenge reviews of their work unless they are (a) direct personal attacks, which I honestly don't read Russell's review as being, or (b) factually inaccurate, which to the best of my knowledge Russell's review is not.

But I am, and this never gets stressed enough online when these things spark up, very happy to disagree with people.