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  1. #1
    Margaret Shiels's Avatar
    Margaret Shiels Guest

    Default What Amazon doesn't want you to know.

    Gentle uk.sci.astronomy reader,

    First, my apology for cross-posting to this NG. Be assured that this is
    a one-off. It will never happen again.

    My sole purpose is to draw your attention to what I believe are dubious
    practices by I also believe that at stake here is freedom
    of expression.

    Amazon have rejected my reader review of a novel by John McGahern. In
    the UK and Ireland it was published under the title, "That They May
    Face The Rising Sun". In the USA and elsewhere it's entitled simply
    "The Lake".

    You may have read it. You may even have thoroughly enjoyed it.

    That is not the issue. The issue is that Amazon refuse to publish my
    review. First, they ignored it. When it failed to appear, they fed me
    the excuse of their moderators being too busy to read it. Next they
    insisted (three times) that it did not comply with their review

    I copied their guidelines to my Amazon correspondent and asked her to
    specify the guidelines with which my review did not comply. She replied
    that she could not be specific.

    When I threatened to expose Amazon on the net, they relented, and said
    that my review broke two of their rules. (It did not.) But I amended
    it, and you can read it below. You'll see that, although it's critical,
    there are other reviews on that are far more critical than

    So what's going on? Have they done a deal with McGahern's publisher? It
    would not surprise me; the book trade has became increasingly corrupt.
    Why do you think that only a small number of books get reviewed in the
    papers — and that they're the same books in each paper? Because they're
    the best books at that moment? Think again.

    Read the actual READER reviews on Amazon and see how they compare with
    the newspaper reviews. You will read lines like: "I bought this book
    because I believed all the hype. I was very disappointed."

    We are being conned.

    Anyhow, I dutifully submitted the amended review, with the assurance
    that it would appear within 5 days. It did not.

    The astute reader will understand that this could continue ad nauseam,
    with Amazon trying to wear me down so much that I would give up and
    forget it.

    I won't. Free speech and free expression are at issue here. Amazon now
    control something like 80% of book sales worldwide. They have killed
    the small bookseller. Soon the medium-sized book store will follow, and
    Amazon will have a monopoly.

    At that point they can do anything they please. Try posting a very
    critical book review then!

    Sincerely, and my apologies again for the cross-posting!

    Margaret Shiels


    [The review Amazon didn't want you to see:]

    When MIGHT is right.

    In his Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, the apostle Paul wrote of
    "those who are being lost, because they didn't receive the love of the
    truth, that they might be saved. (2:10)"

    What a shame that John McGahern didn't read his Scripture with a little
    more diligence; had he done so, he might not have botched the grammar
    in the very title of his book, and might instead have called it: "That
    They MIGHT Face the Rising Sun". If the poor English had ended there
    then all might have been well. As it is, when one gets past the title
    page, it's all downhill.

    The novel provides clear evidence that, once a writer's book is
    denounced by the Catholic Church, all subsequent work will be praised
    as literature. We need only think of the frightful Edna O'Brien....

    And literature is what this book clearly is not, at least not when it's
    read objectively, without the baggage of the encomia that have attached
    themselves to McGahern over the years, like limpets on a whale's

    It's terrible. I could not get beyond page 36. I tried; I genuinely
    did. The lacklustre prose is indistinguishable from that of Alice
    Taylor – in fact Taylor's outdoes McGahern's quite often. There is a
    myth, no doubt put about by McGahern himself, that he overwrites
    excessively, then prunes remorselessly. If that's the case, then the
    out-takes of "TTMFTRS" must have been excruciatingly bad.

    He has no style, plain and simple – indeed I'd have preferred "plain
    and simple" rather than McGahern's weak and often cringe-making
    attempts at style. The English language seems foreign to him. It's
    English for Beginners, the vocabulary of the semi-educated. And one
    would think, to read McGahern, that Peter Mark Roget had never drawn
    breath. "Sure why use synonyms," he must reason, "when the one verb can
    be made to serve every situation?" Everybody "walks" for example; no
    sauntering, hastening, loping, striding or what have you. Clichés
    proliferate, and inept ones at that: a bird drops "like a stone" (the
    only time I ever saw a bird dropping like a stone was when my husband
    let fall a frozen chicken in the supermarket).

    All the characters speak with the same, dull, interchangeable voice.
    Nor does the dialogue always ring true; at one point, for example, a
    country person speaks the line, "None of us believes and we go", a
    usage I've never encountered in rural Leitrim.

    McGahern cannot write characters that engage me. Because all speak with
    the same voice, it was difficult to choose between them, and as a
    result, no one character held my attention.

    His narrative is even worse than his dialogue: "His eyes glittered on
    the pot as he waited, willing them to a boil." Classic Alice Taylor,
    that. I flipped through the pages and chose passages at random. There
    were no fine words or interesting turns of phrase that merited a
    mention. In fact, all I found was mediocre writing, hardly better than
    anything a schoolchild could write. And the syntax! Even that infamous
    torturer of English syntax Anita Desai could do no worse than: "The
    Shah rolled round the lake with the sheepdog in the front seat of the
    car every Sunday and stayed until he was given his tea at six."

    The dust jacket quotes the Observer; evidently it hailed McGahern as
    "Ireland's greatest living novelist". Whoever wrote that should hang
    his/her head in shame, and apologize at once to ... well, to everybody
    really; such poor writing as this does Ireland no favours.

    If I am wrong, and there truly is a great novel lurking between the
    covers of this book, then why on earth bury it beneath such dreadful
    prose? I honestly tried to allow this novel to grip me, but it failed
    dismally. Should I have persevered simply because it was written by
    "the finest Irish writer now working in prose"? The hell I should! Two
    out of ten, and that's being generous.

  2. #2
    Jim Attfield's Avatar
    Jim Attfield Guest

    Default What Amazon doesn't want you to know.

    On Sat, 12 Nov 2005 11:20:02 +0000, Margaret Shiels
    <> wrote:

    Pathetic excuse. Well, it won't happen to me...


  3. #3
    DT's Avatar
    DT Guest

    Default What Amazon doesn't want you to know.

    Ha, rejected by Amazon!
    The phrase 'sets a low standard then fails to achieve it' springs to
    To be more constructive, never let your ego fool you into thinking that
    the right to free speech includes the right to be listened to.
    Perhaps you could post further evidence of your desire to publicise your
    own foolishness to a literary group in future.

    Hope this helps,
    change nospam: n o s p a m
    v a l l e ys

  4. #4
    Chuck Taylor's Avatar
    Chuck Taylor Guest

    Default What Amazon doesn't want you to know.

    > My sole purpose is to draw your attention to what I believe are dubious

    Oh my goodness! You are absolutely right! It is a giant
    conspiracy! After all, the UN charter states that for other
    people, "freedom of expression" merely means they are free to
    express their viewpoint, but not that anyone else has to
    listen, support or publish that viewpoint. But the UN charter
    clearly goes on to state that for Margaret Shiels, it also
    means everyone else has to publish at their own expense
    whatever Margaret writes. I am certain that is written into
    the constitution of every civilized nation on earth!

    Of course, with that understanding, I am now about to break
    the law in every civilized nation by putting you into my
    killfile, which means I am stopping you from being published
    on my computer.

    How unlawful of me!

    Clear Skies

    Chuck Taylor
    Do you observe the moon? If so, try

    If you enjoy optics, try

  5. #5
    Mark McIntyre's Avatar
    Mark McIntyre Guest

    Default What Amazon doesn't want you to know.

    On Sat, 12 Nov 2005 11:20:02 +0000, in uk.sci.astronomy , Margaret
    Shiels <> wrote:

    Great. Please don't spam us with irrelevant stuff.
    Mark McIntyre
    CLC FAQ <>
    CLC readme: <>

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  6. #6
    bloostar76's Avatar
    bloostar76 Guest

    Default What Amazon doesn't want you to know.

    Maybe it was just too long for them to fit it on the page? I got bored by
    the 4th sentence!



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