Breaking News: EVERGREEN DREAMING Gets Notice in “Publishers Weekly”

Book Cover

I’m pleased to announce that my recent book, Evergreen Dreaming: Trail Tales of an Aging Hiker (aka “Ed”), was selected for a review by the venerable trade magazine Publishers Weekly. Only a small number of self-published books are selected for such a review.

Publishers Weekly (PW) has been around since 1872 and primarily serves booksellers, libraries, publishers, and agents. The reviews are generally short plot summaries, and can be favorable or unfavorable. Fortunately, Ed’s review was favorable.

However…PW reviews are not exactly New York Times quality. While I’m grateful to whomever read and reviewed Ed, I wish he or she had read the entire book instead of just the first section (my hike through Georgia and North Carolina). I also wish the reviewer had been more careful with relating the narrative.

For grins and giggles—and because I don’t have anything better to do at the moment—I’m including the entire review here, with my editor comments following. (I do this stuff all the time at work, so it comes naturally.) Picking apart this superficial review, which sounds like it was written by a 10th grader, also makes me feel better.

Here it is:

Kurtz, a 55-year-old technical writer (“Bluejackets in the Blubber Room”), hikes from Georgia to North Carolina along the Appalachian Trail in this entertaining travelogue. My blubber book is unrelated to my technical writing work, and I hiked other trails besides the Georgia-NC section of the AT, and it’s not a travelogue. His love for nature started as a teen camping with his family in the Blue Ridge Mountain; now, his wife, Lynn, supports him in his hiking endeavors, but worries about his quest at his age. “Mountain” should be plural, and I emphasize that my love of nature started earlier. Kurtz makes several friends along the way (among them, Dylan, a 24-year-old realizing his dream to hike the entire trail, who joins Kurtz for a couple days), and describes the scenery (“a long, flat stretch with lots of overhanging rhododrendon that offers a nice shady canopy”). Dylan is only hiking for a week, he’s not hiking the “entire trail.” Also, it’s spelled “rhododendron.” Also, why include this innocuous quote? Along the way, he argues for wilderness conservation, noting that only 3% of the 2,200-mile trail is designated wilderness and warning that open spaces are threatened. Wrong. I note that only 3% of AMERICA, not the AT, is designated Wilderness (capital ‘W’). Kurtz also discusses his affinity for reading (“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”), his love for the Beatles, his desire for hot water, and his reliance on sturdy walking sticks (one of which he names “Kip”)—and he always makes sure to call Lynn to share his experiences. I don’t so much discuss an affinity for reading, I just namedrop certain books and authors. Same thing with The Beatles. Also, ALL of my sticks are named “Kip,” not just one. Also, I don’t always call Lynn. Jeez, he makes it sound like I’ve got apron strings trailing from my backpack. Kurtz’s charming memoir encourages wilderness purists to chase their dreams, regardless of age. Thanks for the “charming memoir” part, but I don’t encourage anyone to chase their dreams. I just chased one dream of mine, that’s all.

Again, thanks for the favorable review, PW, but in the future, maybe you should assign your reviews to people who are familiar with books, not just texts and Twitter.

PW

23 thoughts on “Breaking News: EVERGREEN DREAMING Gets Notice in “Publishers Weekly”

  1. You crack me up. I like the way you assert your integrity with your review of the review.

    Also, and again, I loved the book. I honestly couldn’t put it down. Who is slotted to play you in the movie?

    Jennie of Cleveland (Lynn’s cousin)

    • Hi Jennie (Lynn’s cousin). Lynn was just talking about you the other day. Hope you’re well. Thanks so much for reading and reviewing Ed. As for an actor for myself, what do you think of Michael Douglas? Heck, Kirk is still around…let’s go with him. 🙂

  2. HA! You made me laugh with your notes in red. Besides that I am so happy for you the PW gave you a reveiw. That is exciting stuff.

  3. Hi Peter:
    Kudos on getting some ink. I am not sure whether the issue here is about ‘faint praise’ , ‘gift horses’ or ‘biting the feeding hand’, but nonetheless, kudos!
    I have thought of you often in recent weeks as I read through the most fascinating and thought provoking book on the iPhone called ‘The One Device’ by Brian Merchant. Knowing how much you are against smartphones, you will be vindicated while amazed by this compelling and revealing account of the genesis of the iPhone. This is not another story about Steven Jobs. If you were taking a 4 year course on iPhones, this is iPhone 101, an addictive reveal of the innovation , serendipity and sometimes crazy luck of Apple. I could not put it down.

    • Thanks Phil. Yeah, I’d rather have a poorly written favorable review than a well-written unfavorable review. So maybe I’m “biting the hand…” I am grateful, but you’d think a publication like PW could get things right.

      • Read The One Device. Brian Merchant accomplishes an impressive feat in his research efforts alone, putting aside his informative and engaging writing style. This is a formidable and enlightening work. You will respect it!

  4. Very entertaining. Sort of a mixed blessing, eh? I guess even a poorly-written good review is better than no review at all. Bear in mind the average reader of the review won’t know the reviewer’s inaccuracies. Too bad for them if they expect it to be all about your quest to meet the Beatles. And your insatiable love for hot water. 🙂 Or perhaps even (literary reference coming) a rewrite of ‘Heart of Darkness.” And why do you deny that you call your wife every five minutes? I find it.. charming. {snort}. Anyway, good on ya. Now I’m off to chase my dream, AKA, a date with Nicole Kidman. Whom I will bring rovovendrons!

    • Yes, definitely a mixed blessing. For a favorable NYT review, I’d quit my job and finance my own cross-country book tour. But this thing? Good for a few laughs on “longitudes.”

      • Yes, so there’s that. At least you got something. I have two good reviews for my novel which languishes mostly unloved on Amazon. But no “professional” reviewer. But then again, it’s not like I’m really investing much in it anymore considering I wrote it like, 14 years ago. I have a business book out recently, BTW, which has sold maybe a couple hundred copies. Actually got a small royalty check the other day.

  5. Congrats Pete, that’s your Kiski education shining through. Well done and richly deserved, old friend. Of course, I’m sure your using my name in the acknowledgements made all the difference. Please forward my share of the royalties at your leisure.

    • Ha! Will do, Tad. I’m thankful I went to Kiski. I had my rough moments (Clark Hall was a version of “Lord of the Flies”), but I think it made me a better person. We’ll have to reminisce some day over some beers. Would love to track down Charlie Foy, if you remember him.

      • Wish I knew. He and I kind of bonded at the end of sophomore year. He then left Kiski to attend Mt. Lebanon High School. I saw him at a wrestling tourney the following year, and he was disqualified for picking up his opponent and slamming him on the mat. A popular guy at Kiski, but he still seemed to plow his own turf.

  6. Your “charming memoir” is out there. I’ve had a bit of experience with reviews. You never know what you’re going to get. Hey you got some positive ink. Won’t hurt fella. I had to talk one of my partners down off a bridge, he got so twisted by a negative response. CB really liked “Evergreen” especially the parts where you “called Lynn every night”. I’m still chuckling at that. That must a jumped out like a bad pimple.

    • Yeah, the review makes me sound like a mambie-pambie. I hope that doesn’t come across in the book (authors, like screenwriters/actors, have a hard time judging their own work). That’s shocking about your friend on the bridge (though I’m sure you’re exaggerating). Those negative reviews can hurt, even if assholes write them. So, yeah, I’m appreciative of the PW review overall.

      • “Mambie pambie”, no not at all in my opinion. You put your work out there people are going to have a go at you. You have to expect it. Mean spirited and ignorant deserves a “shit kicking’. Not someones bag, I get. Your book was from a personal place and that’s one of the reasons it appealed to me.
        Yes I was “exaggerating” on that but he did take everything to the bone and really got bent out of shape. Sometimes you know when it’s shit others times you say “hey that’s not too bad”

  7. Well done Pedro – Congratulations on the Evergreen Dreaming review and wouldn’t your readers agree, PW absolutely needs to have YOU do a review-or-two!
    Your “replies” in red (doin it editor style) made me smile and even LOL at times. They’re just one more fine example of Peter Kurtz writing… sometimes eliciting guffaws and sometimes bringing (this reader to) tears. My sincere thanks for both.

    • Hey, thanks, Rock-o. Yes, I’ve been trained well as a Technical Writer/Editor, bleeding with a red pen. I’m sure the PW reviewer is a nice person, though, and it’s a shame my venomous pen can’t be used instead for someone like our old friend “Nurse Ratched.” Sheesh, what a witch!

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