Tends to forbid me from singing my own praises. It’s not natural for me to tout reviews for my work.
Back in Nebraska (the Nebraska of both my youth and my imagination), understated acceptance of praise was an art form in itself, because, hell, everybody who worked the fields, everybody who had to get up before daylight to feed the animals before going to school, everybody knew the work was hard. So when someone complimented your efforts, there had to be a touch of humility in your reply, along with a very wry acknowledgement that it was just your luck to be noticed.
“Good job getting that calf out of the well by yourself.”
“That wasn’t anything, she didn’t weigh nor more than a speckle-bottomed puppy.” Unsaid, but known by both speakers, is the fact the baby cow was the size of a Harley motorcycle.
I will say this one thing about reviews: over and above the ego-stroking they provide to an author, they also let us know if we really achieved what we set out to do. Getting feedback from a stranger can be brutal (think speed-dating on national TV, with every rejection and snide comment about how far your ears stick out from the side of your head broadcast to millions), but it can also be incredibly useful. Did I hit the mark or miss by a country-mile? Do I sorta have a clue about what I’m doing or am I fooling myself? Oh, look, some reader half-way across the world is going to take the time to let me know.
“I simply can’t say enough good things about this book. It’s a read for the long haul, with steady pacing, characters whose spirits are torn apart and slowly painfully rebuilt, a supporting cast of three-dimensional characters who breath life and color into the tapestry. And there is the story itself, which is nothing more than an epic picture of a world between wars, as experienced on human scale through the two protagonists. The bare bones I’ve told here don’t begin to convey the wealth of detail and adventure that are woven into the twin stories of Robert and Charlotte, of what the war has cost, and of what they’ve each gained.
“It’s an incredible achievement and my only complaint this time is that I want to know what happens next.”
Well, shucks. Guess I’d better get back to work on Book Four, then.