Disciple, I suppose, could be described as a put-upon, down-on-his-luck investigator who tries to get his own back by continually ducking sideways. He takes the back way home. More and more it’s starting to look as though Disciple of the Dog will be every bit as put-upon and down-on-its-luck as its namesake character. The Publisher’s Weekly review has found its way to Disciple’s Amazon page. It begins, “The cleverness Bakker displayed in his Prince of Nothing fantasy trilogy (The Darkness That Comes Before, etc.) is lacking in this suspense novel introducing Disciple Manning…” In other words, it starts with a dismissive tone. “Clever” is the word people use to describe things not quite as profound as they are: I should know, since this is how I use the term all the time myself! The review then lays out the shape of the plot before ending with: “A crude, off-putting hero with a flatulence problem may leave few readers eager for a sequel.”
Had to break for a laugh… Too fucking funny.
Primarily because I would bet my next royalty check that whoever wrote this review farted at least ten times as much while reading the book as the two farts attributed to Disciple in the story. Funny how two farts can become a “flatulence problem” so quickly. Books are like elevators that way, I guess.
The reviewer should have ended with “Disciple is a dog… A yukky, yukky dawg.” Then I could have said, “Huh. Go figure.”
Oh well. Dem da breaks. I’ve always said that liking this book depends on liking the hero. Leave it to Disciple to find his way into the hands of a prude. There’s few mechanisms in the brain more difficult to get around than those involved in disgust. Once you trigger these systems, it’s pretty much game over. They should get her to review Bukowski next (I’m just assuming she’s a she because of the whole “fart chauvinism” thing, but I could be wrong).
As Disciple himself says, “One man’s dog is another woman’s pig. I get that.”
It really is a game of chance with every book: not only does it need to reach the right reviewer, it needs to reach them in the right way at the right time. Reviewers are almost as heterogenous in their make-up as the general population of readers. So if you game expectations the way I do, self-consciously try to rub against the grain of certain sensibilities (in the case of Disciple, the kinds of micro-proprieties that people use to cobble together the moral character of people they meet), you are bound to get smacked. All I can do is shake my head, shrug my shoulders, and hope the next roll of the review dice doesn’t come up… craps.
And at the same time I can’t help but feel that, “A crude, off-putting hero with a flatulence problem [that (sic)] may leave few readers eager for a sequel,” would be a damn good blurb to put on the mass market paperback’s cover. The only problem is that it would scare the prudish away, when I would much rather give them a rash.
And on top of that, I’m going to succumb to the gambler’s fallacy and say that Disciple has suffered so much bad luck that his number is due. Not everyone is averse to his brand!