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.