I won this book via Goodreads Giveaway. Although I would like to tell you that the author doesn't genuinely go by "Literary Stud", I would unfortunately be lying.
The book is 124 pages long--which hardly even counts as a novella, if you ask me--and is split into three "Episodes"--his words, not mine: Rumors Ring True, It's Complicated, and The Lies We Tell. As far as I can tell, there was seriously no point in splitting the book into three 'sections' when the plot can very obviously speak for itself and the book certainly isn't long enough to demand headings.
Furthermore, I would like to heartily shame his "team of editors" on his "acknowledgments" page--and I realize that technically that word is correct without the 'e' preceding 'ments', but it's not aesthetically pleasing and, generally speaking at any rate, less accepted. Although I'm not sure I want to know what this looked like before they got their hands on it, I certainly can't praise them for letting it leave their hands in the state that it's in.
I couldn’t even finish reading the book because of how absolutely dreadful it was. I made it halfway through “Episode 2″ before I finally just gave up and abandoned ship–something I have never done before. To be blunt, I wish that there was a negative stars rating option so that I could fully encompass to you all just how bad this book really is. As it stands, I am forced by the Goodreads system to give it 1 star, even though I swear to you it doesn’t deserve it.
From the start of the “novel”, the sentences are absurdly short and stilted; the paragraphs have no flow to speak of, and the dialogue is at least as stilted–if not more so. The prose is so genuinely staccato that it’s straight up hard to read. When sentences don’t flow together, it leaves you reading like a second grader who hasn’t quite graduated from picture books yet. The other significant issue with the dialogue–besides its lack of realistic vernacular, etc, is that nobody is provided with an accent. It might be hard to describe in-text an accent that you live around because it can be hard to hear, but even Texans know how southerners talk and should be able to produce a drawl on paper. Dialects include more than just phonological (sounds) variation, but also word choice and phrase structure, and I’m not seeing any of that presented here. This robs the characters of a huge part of their identity, and really short changes what the story potentially could be. (This review might have been less scathing if the characters actually had any, you know, character to them.)
There are also some inaccuracies that a person might not catch if they weren’t well-versed in musical instruments. Like, for example, you don’t “flex the tone holes” of a tenor saxophone. I don’t even know what that’s supposed to mean, and I played the saxophone in high school. (It wasn’t my main instrument, but I did play it.) Frankly, I don’t think you even have to be versed in musical instruments to take exception to that statement.
In the same scene as the saxophone issue, the character in question is listed as wearing an "A-shirt" with a "labrys" against her stomach. Does anybody else know what an A-shirt is? I had to google that shit, and you know what I found? It's a wife beater, you guys. It's a wife beater. Which I realize is really politically incorrect and gives the wrong 'vibe' for an outfit or whatever, but at least we know what it is. A "white ribbed tank top" would be equally as descriptive and still a better option than an "A-shirt". How about a labrys? I googled that shit, too, and it's a symmetric doubleheaded axe originally from Crete in Greece. So whatever the hell “Stud” meant–which was probably something related to the neck strap of the saxophone, if I had to guess–I really don’t think this was it, unless his saxophone player was wearing a fucking axe around her neck.
But let’s talk plot for a bit, shall we? At least until I get derailed again. Ava is our main character, and apparently a lesbian. Which is fine; I don’t care. And she’s apparently crushing on the aforementioned saxophone player Bailey, who apparently has a reputation for being a heart breaker. Or something. And Bailey develops the hots for Ava as well–because what else?–and despite the protestations and meddling of her coworker(s) and boss, they get together and start dating.
For the record, Chapter 2 starts with the sentence “Fish problems were not Daniel’s forte.” As in issues between lesbians. I shit you not. If the goal was to make me dislike Daniel as swiftly as possible, I would finish this out with a “job well done!”, but I honestly can’t find a single reason to like any of the characters mentioned thus far. Ava lacks any description whatsoever and is highly inconsistent in terms of behavioral patterns. Bailey keeps referring to herself as a nigga and throws around “muthafucka” like it’s rice at a wedding. Even if Bailey is supposed to be “ethnic” or, how shall I say, "really black", Stud is not doing a good job at depicting whatever it is she means her to be. Daniel is a snide prick who likes to cause drama and Cole (short for Colette), the boss–who is apparently also a chick–is a noncommittal, promiscuous lesbian who keeps calling Bailey “son”. I really, seriously can’t figure out what “Stud” is trying to accomplish with any of these characters.
Oh, in terms of calling Bailey “son.” It’s possible–even somewhat likely–that Bailey has chosen to identify with masculine pronouns. And that’s fine. Great, even. This is probably the only positive thing I will say for ‘Literary Stud’ is that she makes my inner feminist happy in not limiting her characters to societally-dictated pronouns dependent upon genitalia. However. That’s as far as the praise goes, because it really deserves some kind of explanation of Bailey’s character before you start dropping opposing-gender pronouns on a character. Calling Bailey “son” entirely out of the blue without any kind of commentary on who Bailey is–and previously calling her “her” and “she”–it just seems out of place and disjointed. Or an error.
Even knowing that “Stud” is a lesbian who also chooses masculine pronouns–which I’m probably rudely violating in using feminine pronouns in this post, but they’re staying because I’m not invested enough to go back through and find them all and change them.
By the end of Chapter 3, Ava and Bailey have reconciled their misunderstanding (which is actually just the hesitation brought about by hearing rumors regarding a reputation which has apparently been largely earned) and make out in a porn shop. The reaction of the sales associate is entirely unrealistic–”Hey you two! I love the show but you’re going to have to take it somewhere else” says an unnamed voice, which is completely stupid because seriously, if you work in a sex shop, you’ve seen enough shit that watching lesbians awkwardly paw each other by a wall of strap ons isn’t a turn on anymore (although why it ever would have been is beyond me). I have friends who have worked in porn shops and they’ve all said the same thing of themselves and their coworkers. It’s just not… feasible? likely? accurate? plausible? I don’t even know what word you want me to use. The subsequent conversation isn’t exactly realistic either, ending with: “Why don’t we pay for these items and go get a quick bite to eat?” Who even says that? Nobody calls the stuff they’re buying “items” and nobody goes for a “quick bite to eat” right after they’ve made out and bought a strap on. I mean, unless they’re referring to eating some vagina, but they literally walk across the street to a twenty-four hour restaurant specializing in breakfast food.
Dude. What? Across from the porn shop? NO. Just no. Other cultures don’t handle sex the same way that America does, but even in Texas the porn shops are tucked away out of sight of potential “family-centered” establishments.
Also, just for the record, here are a few helpful little grammar lessons brought to you courtesy of Literary Stud.
Helpful little grammar lesson #1: You do not need a comma between an adjective and its modifying adverb. "A black plastic bag" is allowed precisely 0 commas because "black" is modifying "plastic", which is modifying "bag"; therefore you do not place a comma between them. Glad we could have this talk.
Helpful little grammar lesson #2: when you're dealing with dialogue, a quote plus its tag is one whole sentence. Let me illustrate:
"Let's walk to the car," she said.Notice how the end of the quotation has a comma? That's because 'she said' is part of your sentence and belongs inside the period with whatever it is that's inside quotation marks. The only time you get to have
"Let's walk to the car."is if the proceeding phrase is an independent clause or sentence, such as 'She turned around and strutted away without looking to see if I was following." or "She grinned and waggled her eyebrows."
ALSO. You don't use any punctuation at all at the end of your quotation in cases such as
"Let's walk to the car" was the last thing I heard before a sharp pain caused my vision to go black and I lost consciousness.*None of these sentences are examples from the book.
Helpful little grammar lesson #3: ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS END CHAPTERS WITH PUNCTUATION UNLESS:
1. You are quoting a poem or song distinctly lacking punctuation
- Don't ever give somebody else the last word in your work, whether its creative or academic. You're basically removing authority from yourself by handing it over to somebody else and you don't want to do that--especially not in your creative writing.
Actually that's it. That's the only reason you should ever neglect to punctuate the end of your chapter, which I just explained you shouldn't ever do, which leaves you with the aforementioned rule listed in all caps, sans "unless." Always end sentences, paragraphs, and chapters with punctuation.
Helpful little grammar lesson #4: It's always, always better to underuse commas than to overuse them.
Someone apparently should have shared these with “Literary Stud” before letting her destroy some beautiful trees with her bad grammar and even worse content.
On a separate note, I don’t think I came across a single female character in this story who wasn’t gay. Even when there was discussion of Cole’s family. I mean, obviously Cole’s mom had to have had sex with a dude (or been inseminated, whatever), but nothing is said of the mom, only of Aunt Maxi, who was also a lesbian and equally as noncommittal as Cole apparently is. And apparently “the only father Cole had ever known.” And every employee at this club/restaurant/bar is female with the exception of Daniel. And, as far as I can tell, they’re all gay. Every single one of them. I mean, whatever, but so far the only non-gay character who’s been named is Daniel–and it isn’t even for sure that Daniel is straight, just that he doesn’t deal with lesbian–excuse me, “fish”–problems. That is not a statement of heterosexuality.
This doesn’t work. It just doesn’t.
There’s a statement in part two that reads “Now if only her sexy ass wasn’t such a womanizer, she would be a half decent Stud.” And I don’t know what the fuck this is supposed to mean. It comes with no explanation, no further comment, nothing. That’s it. And “Stud” is capitalized. Again: why? I don’t know, and I’m not going to waste energy thinking about it. The proceeding page reveals a less-professional relationship having existed between Cole and her head chef, Tasha, during which she calls Tasha’s girlfriend her “stubby.” I am fairly well-versed in lesbian terminology and I have never heard any of these terms–at least not used in these contexts.
Sometimes, you’re really better off using words that your readership is going to recognize and be comfortable with. Even when the big word sounds more impressive, or makes you look more “authoritative” on a subject, if your readership isn’t going to know what it means, you’re just going to look either pompous/pretentious or out of touch with reality. Thus far, I really can’t decide where Literary Stud falls, but I’m definitely leaning toward the former option.
Without nitpicking-picking every page of this… frankly pathetic piece of “literature”–and it pains me to call it such (literature, not pathetic; I don’t give two shits about calling it what it is, just what it isn’t)–I really just have to say that this book reads like the writer’s wet dream. And that’s all. It’s not well thought out, nor is it well executed.
I don’t know what I was thinking when I entered the giveaway. Probably just that I wanted a book and few enough people had entered it already that I figured my chances were good and then I’d have a free book and an easy review for my blog. If I could have had those things without having to read 124 pages of trash, that would have been great.
In short: this is literally the worst book I have ever forced myself to read in my life, and my gratitude that it’s only 124 pages is tangible. I mourn the life of the tree that was sacrificed for this piece of garbage.
Bottom line: Never trust a book from anybody who hasn’t yet graduated from his “fanfiction.net”-esque username. My advice? Grow up, attach your name to your writing, and maybe take a few creative writing classes at your local university.