Book Review: “An Incredibly Astute Novella About Ego and Politics…”

“Smart, well-written, and frequently funny, The Race offers some interesting speculation into the mind of the American politician…” – Marc Schuster, Small Press Reviews

Readers, it’s another great day here on the Jacke Blog. My short novel The Race has received another wonderful review, this time from Marc Schuster of Small Press Reviews.

(For those of you who missed the previous review from My Little Book Blog (“warm and full of life”), feel free to catch up on the review itself or my reaction to it.)

Schuster’s review begins with a perfect encapsulation of the book:

Jacke Wilson’s The Race is an incredibly astute novella about ego and politics that attempts to explain why anyone in their right mind might run for political office. The answer, it turns out, is that they wouldn’t, as the political arena is reserved for the eternally deluded and arguably insane.

Awesome. “Eternally deluded and arguably insane” could be the title!

And this is also a very shrewd (and generous!) assessment:

There’s certainly plenty of dry humor to be had in the proceedings — particularly as Olson [the former governor at the heart of the book] does his best to turn the rancid lemons of his tattered political career into saccharine-sweet lemonade — but the real strength of Wilson’s writing is in its Marxian critique of American politics.

Man. “[R]ancid lemons of his tattered political career into saccharine-sweet lemonade” is a phrase I should have used in the book itself. Simply perfect.

And then there’s this, which once again really gets at the heart of what I was trying to accomplish:

[The Race‘s main character] demonstrates that what truly drives politicians is a desire to control the narratives of their own lives, as his tragically optimistic efforts at running for office are forever haunted by the specter of the good man he was before throwing his hat into the political arena.

Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. What a great review.

My thanks to Marc for giving my little book a chance and for crafting such a thoughtful, well-written review. You should definitely check out Small Press Reviews – Marc’s clearly an intelligent guy and he’s doing some really good work over there.

And of course, you can find The Race at (in Kindle and paperback versions) and other formats and locations.

Are you a reviewer? Leave a comment or send me an email and I’ll ship you a free review copy. Or you can enjoy the 100 Objects series, which is still going strong. 

Review of The Race: “Warm and Full of Life…”

“[A] delightful novella about politics, scandal, reputation and above all, the importance of love…” – mylittlebookblog

Readers, it’s a very good day here on the Jacke Blog. My novella The Race has been reviewed by mylittlebookblog, and the results have had me smiling all day.

I’m not sure which is my favorite snippet. Maybe the one at the top. But this is good too:

Although the book is short, Wilson also manages to make the characters warm and full of life whilst being well structured with evocative personalities.

Thank you! And there’s more:

Wilson manages to exert meaning and feeling from the characters’ personalities onto the reader, in a candid style but with humour.

I won’t disagree! The rest is too good to interrupt…

  • The writing style is also a real credit to the writer and it not only gives the whole book a certain manner but it also makes the reader feel wholly consumed by the novel…
  • I (honestly) read this is one go; I could not help but keep reading in which to know what was going to happen next…
  • I fell in love with this humorous and clever story because overall it is an extremely realistic tale of tragedy…
  • …beautiful prose, well-defined characters and a real understanding of pace and writing style…

Really wonderful praise; I’m very grateful to Lizzy at mylittlebookblog for giving this such a good read and for writing such a positive and enthusiastic review. I’ll close with what’s my favorite quote (at least today – tomorrow I’ll probably savor a different one):

[W]e follow this campaign right through the end, to see whether the outraged public will forgive this disreputable politician or whether he will go down like a sack of bricks.

A sack of bricks! I might have to redo the cover to add that line.

What a thoughtful, generous review – a true delight to read. Thank you again, Lizzy!

You can read the full review at mylittlebookblog (and really that site should be a regular visit for you if it isn’t already).

And of course, you can find The Race at (in Kindle and paperback versions) and other formats and locations.

Are you a reviewer? Leave a comment or send me an email and I’ll ship you a free review copy. Or you can just read a free story about a football coach desperate to find some meaning in a winless season

How to Review Books: My Manifesto

Sometimes changes make tired old arguments look even more creaky.

This is how I felt when I encountered yet another back-and-forth about whether book reviewers should strive to be positive and avoid snark, or whether they should be hard-minded critics, willing to blame as well as praise in their criticism. Maria Bustillos has a rundown.

This debate is like the dance of the straw men. Each side exaggerates the position of the other, until a positive book reviewer is merely a shill, and a negative reviewer is snarky or narcissistic or whatever.

People: the world is changing. It’s not the case that a small number of publications review a few selected books every season, and readers are led by the nose to what has been selected for them to read. They have access to all kinds of books as well as to all kinds of critics. A million flowers have bloomed.

Critics want to take a consistent approach? Fine. Write a manifesto? Great. Criticize some other critic’s manifesto? Now you’re tipping into pointlessness.

Here’s my manifesto: Don’t argue about how to review books. Just review them.

Let your approach manifest itself in the reviews themselves, and let your audience decide whether or not they value the approach you’ve taken. There’s room for dialogue as well as promotion. Harshness and praise.

The critical voice – your voice – is your best asset. Don’t try to make it into something that it’s not to suit your theory.

Is what I just wrote positive? Snarky? Actually I’m not sure. It was my honest response. That’s what I’ll stand by. Good critics should too.

Onward and upward, people!

Carlton Dance Image Credit: GIFSOUP.COM