Every Friday night, there’s a show on BBC2 called The Review Show. They’ve got an alternating panel of people on, people who have other jobs too I suppose, but their job here is to be critics. So during the week they’ve given them a movie to watch, maybe a TV show too, a book to read and sometimes an exhibition to go to and then they let them loose to critique it. There’s no other show on TV that interests me and terrifies me in equal measure, like The Review Show does. I record it each week and I have to gather the courage to watch it at some point during the weekend (fast forwarding through the bits that I’m not interested in, of course, which is most films and most exhibitions). But when they start talking about the books, oh God, I get completely sucked in, but at the same time watching is so uneasy.
Whether they’re talking about an unpublished Kerouac novel or a Joan Didion memoir or something by a new less established writer (though let’s face it, for any book to land on the show it needs to have some serious publisher muscle behind it) I can’t help by wonder what they would say if they were discussing Exit Through The Wound.
As I said there’s a rotating panel, but the key components basically are:
- An middle-aged character actress of some sort who’s there to be nice about the things that are not her medium (books / exhibitions / other) and namedrop other actors who have actually made it when it comes to the films / TV shows
- One of those malformed, grey-haired critic bros whose actual job is to wear black and appear on TV talking about other people’s work
- Germaine Greer (or similar)
- A university literature professor who’s there to pick the prose apart when it comes to the book reviews and analyse it as if they’re talking to a room of post-grad Lit students they’re fed up with
All of the above actually stress me (though the lit professor most of all, naturally) because they really go for it. They discuss book content, style, motivation, effect; they discuss the authors, their lives, their worth. They don’t necessarily always say mean things, most reviews are mixed if you take an average across the panel, but the fact is that everything is discussed in detail. And to be honest although there is a part of me that would kill for my book to be on there (BBC EXPOSURE, PPL) another part knows that I could never watch it, if it were.
So, I’m not sure exactly how Exit Through The Wound comes across to anyone out there. Being a first-time writer with a very small publisher means that it hasn’t got picked up for review by any major streams. In terms of actual reviews there has been one on QX magazine and one on the So So Gay website, and from what I understand there will also be one in Esquire magazine in a couple of months. From there on, I’ve become aware of some online reviews by individual bloggers, like Sam Downing or Jimmy Bramlett. There are several favourable reviews on Amazon – both US and UK – and there are also a few on the GoodReads website. Now if I also take the next step of googling my name and book title I also come across a couple of messageboards where people are discussing me, but in reality they’re not discussing the book, they’re just discussing London Preppy, the character they think I am and, in summary, how I look really shallow and stupid and self-involved and therefore my book must be crap. (Just an FYI for the people who think that side of my online presence a reflection on Exit Through The Wound, hey, did you know how many NEW books come out each year in the UK? Around 200,000. And in the US? Around 290,000 [thank you, Wikipedia]. So my direct competition of newly-published books this year in my two biggest markets are about 500,000 and if me taking my shirt off and posting a picture on Tumblr makes me stand out even a tiny little bit and causes even two more people to look up my book, I’m gonna do it bro, sorry).
So yeah, I guess I wanted to say all this in terms of Exit Through The Wound reception. In reality, I know that reading reviews of your art / work is not really beneficial and it can fuck you up big time. Plus it really shouldn’t matter what other people think (unless every single person tells you that it’s really shit, in which case perhaps you should sit down and have a think about it, but thankfully this hasn’t happened).
Point is that I’m at a stage where I’m planning my next book. And though I don’t really know what those guys at The Review Show might make of Exit Through The Wound, the feedback I’ve got from regular peoples, like, seems to be pretty good. And I’m thankful for every single person who has messaged me or seen me and told me that they read it and liked it. And I guess we’re allowed to move forward and plan the next one, right? I think we are.
(Please note, ETTW has only been out for 2 ½ months and I’ll be spending the next year promoting it; I have events / readings booked for several months ahead, I’m not about to give up on it, but in my head I have to be prepared to write a second one, this is what this post is all about).