Here is it, Día de los Muertos*, and me without calaveras de azucar. Truthfully, I've never had a sugar skull, but would love to someday.
Sirenia Digest #59 should be going out the subscribers this evening. There were a few problems with the first PDF that are being corrected, and we'll get it out to you as soon as everything is just so. Yesterday was spent on the issue's layout. Today, I have to go back to actually writing, and, truthfully, it's a sort of relief.
I really dislike getting angry first thing in the goddamn morning. Or, well, early afternoon. For that reason, I try to avoid reader comments about my books on Amazon.com. This morning, I slipped up, and found this, posted anonymously two days ago by "R.M.B." (I've not bothered correcting R.M.B.'s misspellings):
I was very intrigued with the reviews of this book. It sounded great and I couldn't wait to read it. I was very dissappointed and quit after about five chapters. As is mentioned by other reviewers, the main character is very foul-mouthed and difficult to like. Also, and forgive me if this is a spoiler, in all the reviews and the synopsis I saw on this book nowhere is it mentioned that there is a very heavy gay/lesbian story-line. It's certainly not the first (nor I'm sure the last) book I've read that contains this element, but as that is not my taste and certainly not what I thougt I was getting here, I felt like that little detail was hidden. Frankly I feel a little mislead and wish I could get my money back. I can overlook some of these issues in some books, but this one was'nt one of them.
So, yeah, here's some angrifying shit (thank you for that word, Kristin Hersh). And suddenly I'm having flashbacks to that last (and horrible) Readercon 21 panel this past July, during which I had to listen to people complain that books ought to come with warning labels. Is it wrong for writers to respond to critics? No, not in the least, and I don't know who thought up that tiresome old chestnut. Regardless, I want to be clear that what I am responding to here is not the fact that the reader disliked the novel, as a novel, but to the reader's homophobia and sense of entitlement.
To start with, had she or he actually read "reviews of this book," he or she would have known that Sarah and Constance were lesbians. Few reviews fail to mention Sarah's sexuality, or the fact that she becomes involved with Constance. Ergo, the "reviewer" is either lying and didn't read reviews, or means cover blurbs when he or she says "reviews." Secondly, it is no one's responsibility— not mine and not my editor's and not my publisher's and not Amazon.com's —to inform anyone "that there is a very heavy gay/lesbian story-line." Does R.M.B. think books should notify their readers when there are very heavy straight plots? Of course not, because, remember, heterosexuality is normal and to be expected. It's a given that straight characters will suit the "tastes" of most readers, so this sort of warning would be silly. Obviously. So, never mind the disgust that betrays this reader's homophobia, there's the entitlement issue, that she or he has a right to be informed of queer characters, so such characters can be safely avoided. Same old shit, different goddamn day.
Is this worth me getting upset over? Yes. Maybe it wouldn't be, if gay men and women were accorded the same legal rights as straight men and women. But we are not. We are targeted as deviant. We are shat upon. We are relegated. We are shunned. We are threatened and murdered for loving those we love, and, ironically, told we cannot die in war. We are told we are sick and need to be cured. Even were all this not true, I would find the expectation that a book about us ought to come with a warning utterly abhorrent. So, yes. Sarah Crowe is a lesbian, and she's also "foul-mouthed," and if that gripes your ass, don't read my goddamned novel. If your sensibilities are so easily assaulted, do some research before you buy a book. Don't publicly whine after the fact, because the world can't be bothered to hold your little hand and cover your little eyes and keep you safe from all you find distasteful. And if you are going to publicly speak your opinion about a book, criticize the actual book, instead of using it as a platform for your loathing of queers. Want to review a book? Then review the fucking book, asshole.
There were other things I was going to write about in this entry, but I'm too angry. The whole goddamn world is falling into ruin, and people have time to be offended at queers. This shit has to stop somewhere. To quote Malcolm Reynolds, my favorite space cowboy, "So here is us, on the raggedy edge. Don't push me, and I won't push you."
* My mistake. Día de los Muertos is November 2nd. Surely, I knew that.