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June 24, 2024

An Honest Review of My Frenemy’s Self-Published Book

By Anna Stolley Persky

Your book sucks.

I know there’s this code in the writing community under which we try to support each other and all, but here’s the thing: You’re not actually a writer.

Your book sucks.

I guess you could ask, “who gets to judge that?” My answer would have to be, “we all do,” because you put it out there, and because, honestly, to write a book, you should understand craft. You should have at least a tiny bit of skill, and you don’t. There are dozens of five-star reviews of your book extolling your honest, raw emotions and beautiful writing. Because I’m concerned that unsuspecting strangers might be duped into purchasing your 265 pages of whining drivel, I feel obliged to warn them: Your book sucks.

I’m sorry you had cancer.

Do you remember the time you went to my father’s funeral and tried to sell your beauty products to the mourners, my extended family and friends, during the reception? I do. That was before you got cancer and before you sideswiped me in your book. (Oh, we’ll get to that.) That was before you ghosted me as a friend and implied that I was toxic. That was probably about the time you sold enough skincare product to win your Lexus. Your Lexus is very pretty. Your book sucks.

I blew it all off as just part of your personality, but who goes to a funeral and slips their cards in mourners’ hands, promising to fix that rosacea or the pimples on their chin? Maybe the same person who has decided cancer is another way to raise money, who gets friends to invest in a “self-help” book that somehow turned into a self-pity screed.

Here is my summary of your book: You thought you might have cancer. You did. Your husband was there for you, but you question his motivation and whether the marriage will endure. You are angry at your doctors. You like the friends that took you away for weekend trips. You lost your hair. You got it back. You went through chemotherapy and surgery. You want to talk about the range of emotions you had. You are sometimes grateful for your support system. You are sad and scared. But mostly, you are angry at everyone and think you didn’t deserve to get cancer.

But here’s the rub: A real memoir means confronting the bad parts of yourself, such as, just spitballing here, narcissism and greed.

And maybe, just maybe, you could have examined the part of you that views friends as transactional and dumps them when it appears they are no longer useful.

Here’s another way I wouldn’t have proven useful to you had we stayed close. I wouldn’t have lied for you in an Amazon review of your book. Many of your remaining friends appear to be serving you and helping you sell your ninety-nine cent kindle books. I am guessing that you hope this memoir will make you rich and launch you into a career as a motivational speaker. It’s not really a guess, exactly, since you describe yourself everywhere as an author and motivational speaker.

You are so intent on getting five-star reviews to help make your book a success, you even sent out an email begging for positive reviews and offering to help craft them for those people who didn’t quite know what to write.

What actually makes a book worthy of a five-star review: A mastery of craft.

Writers devote decades into honing their skills. You strung together cliché after cliché, then mixed in some italics, confusing tense changes, and bizarre references to yourself in third person. When I say you needed an editor, I mean, you really needed an editor, who probably would have told you to abandon the project.

But at the very least, the editor would have told you not to write that the mammographer “smooshes” your breast “flat as a pancake” or that you “melt” in a “puddle of tears.”

Also, an editor would have excised the excruciating excess of exclamation points.

Your book sucks.

Speaking of your book, you start it off by writing that, before your cancer diagnosis, you were in a good place. You’d gotten rid of friends who no longer served you. That’s me, I guess.

Maybe you dumped me because, after a few years of being bullied into promoting your business, I set up some boundaries. I stopped going to skincare events to help you sell product, stopped buying the product, and didn’t let you recruit my acquaintances as clients.

During that time, you texted periodically to urge me to buy product again, never once reaching out to me as an actual friend. You made it clear you preferred other people. And yet, your book implies I abandoned you.

You fail to mention that I reached out to help you after your cancer diagnosis and that you ignored me, except when you were fundraising for your book, which, if I haven’t mentioned, sucks.

Article © Anna Stolley Persky. All rights reserved.
Published on 2023-05-01
Image(s) are public domain.
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