I have been a published book author for six months today. Recently I have begun to sense a theme in the negative aspects of our reviews. Now I must say that the majority of the reviews for Check Raising the Devil have been positive, at times glowingly positive. What has interested me is that what negative comments we have received all seem to focus on one critical decision we made the first day we met with Mike to see if we all could, would or should collaborate on the project.
We decided as a group (Mike, his manager, Amy and me) that the book would be written in the first person. I was the lone dissenter but gave in to the overwhelming desires of the others to have the book be completely in Mike's voice. In the last few months I have gotten my wish while writing the screenplay; movies are third person vehicles and I have gotten to write and say the things that did not make it into the book.
But back to the criticism, rather than summarize; I will give you the essence of the critique from the most articulate expression we have found. This is from the Journal of Gambling Issues.
Being written by Matusow and his co-authors, Amy Calistri and Tim Lavalli, the books's first-person narrative is riddled with colloquialisms and crude language. Based on my familiarity with Matusow's conversational style from radio shows, sound clips, and television appearances, the prose captures his voice well. Although it is authentic, it is also distracting at times; it seems that the book compromises good writing for the genuine portrayal of Matusow's propensity to insert curse works unnecessarily into every other sentence.
Guilty! But as this reviewer points out, it was an artistic decision and one that we agreed to live with. By the way, Mike does not unnecessarily insert anything into his conversation, he simply speaks, as do we all. In retrospect, do I regret not winning the first-person argument back on day one? No, I do not. Our format did indeed tell Mike's story in his own voice. We struggled to find that voice and to stay in that voice for the entire book. A few internet babble-heads have actually questioned why Mike needed co-authors, when clearly we just "wrote down what he said." We would like to thank those cyber wonks for probably the best compliments Amy and I have received on the book. If the reader doesn't notice our input, then we did our job to perfection.
Well I feel better now. I think I will go read the NYTimes Sunday Book Review and find that one caustic, withering piece they always have each week. I do love blood mixed with newsprint.
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