Ruel Johnson comments on this post which places his most recent work--Fictions, Volume 1--on a list of worst Guyanese reads:
Lol... You're in danger of becoming the Vishnu Bisram of literary polling. While I'm flattered at my placement in both polls, there are of course several flaws: length of polling time (less than 24 hours); no available poll size data (100 participants polled or just 1); qualification of persons polled (Ian McDonald commending 'Fictions' versus random idiot condemning it); and of course overall transparency.
(Is this guy operating in the real world? Can he read? His level of obnoxious arrogance is unbelievable.)
This was never described as an official poll. It was a request for readers of this blog to send in their picks for best and worst Guyanese reads. And as you can see the comments are still open for more picks. Feel free to add yours.
When I initially issued the request you'd be amazed at how quickly people sent in their requests for one list or the other. As a matter of fact, your Fictions was one of the first and most often suggested for the worst reads list. Maybe that is some indication that some of the people who read this blog bothered to purchase and read your much-hyped book. Who are they? They are folks who like well-told stories with messages to which they can relate. They are folks who don't care much for lengthy, arrogant, incoherent explanations from a writer about his or her hintellectual intent. They are teachers, writers, literary critics, degreed folk, ordinary folk. They are Guyanese and Caribbean people, and they have a healthy respect for the Caribbean literary tradition.
Some of them are older than you and know more than you about good writing and lots more. Some are your peers and admire you and think you have talent, but they also think you need a good dose of reality. They are the people to whom you have been peddling Fictions on facebook and elsewhere. They have every right to give their opinion on your book.
They said (by email and by DM on twitter) that Fictions should be on the list of worst reads, and they also asked that their names be kept off the blog--a very understandable request, Ruel. After all, the internet can be both a thing of beauty--a quick vehicle for spreading the word about good works by deserving writers, and a beast--a place where wicked people can spread nasty rumors about others. And you of all people shouldn't be surprised that people who wanted to give their honest opinion of your book also wanted to stay out of range of your punitive wrath. Who can forget the ugly way you attacked your wife and the mother of your child on your blog last year? If you could do that to her, what wouldn't you do?
And, I have to agree with them. Fictions was a huge disappointment in many ways. For starters, it was unbalanced; the stories ranged from good to head-scratching bad. I wondered at times if the same person wrote all of them! That's how unbalanced the writing was. Fictions was also poorly edited. I couldn't believe something so replete with typos was offered up for an international audience at last year's Carifesta. Shameful indeed! I had the troubling task of reviewing it and focusing on its positives. I did so, and said half of it is worth a read.
You see Ruel, Caribbean Review is a nice place, a supportive place for Caribbean writers at all phases of their careers, and I certainly felt you--still very much a writer at the beginning of your career--needed encouragement, rather than an upbraiding.
Now there you have it. And if I were you, I wouldn't fret about not being reviewed in Guyana. Consider that your friends in the media and elsewhere who are avoiding Fictions like the plague are actually doing you a huge favor. Thank them.