Bad reviews and being Canadian

Now, of course, although The Beggar’s Opera has received fantastic reviews across the board, it’s also had a few bad ones. There was one posted on Amazon, for example, that said it read like it was written by a high school student. Yesterday, someone on Goodreads said it was pedantic (I guess she went to a different high school) and that my writing was “too Canadian.”

I find it utterly fascinating how different people can read the same book and come away with such different takes on it. But I’m probably even more intrigued by the notion that a book set in Cuba can be “too Canadian.” I’m still trying to figure that one out.

It has Canadian characters, certainly, but it’s not like they speak in an Ottawa Valley accent (the only accent among the Canadian characters is O’Malley’s and he’s Irish). None of them arrive in Cuba with a maple leaf on their baggage or talk about the weather. In fact, almost all of their discussions centre around the Cuban criminal justice system or Fidel Castro. There are no lumberjacks, no igloos.

Is it because they’re sympathetic to the people in the country they find themselves in? Concerned about human rights? Polite? Informed? Politically aware? Apologetic?

If so, I’ll accept that criticism enthusiastically. Like the ordinary Joe in that old Molson’s beer commercial: “I am Canadian!”

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5 Responses to Bad reviews and being Canadian

  1. Brian Llwyd says:

    I think trolls like this are frustrated “writers” who have a great book inside that just won’t come out and write itself.

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  2. swlothian says:

    Well put Peggy.
    It’s inevitable that everyone likes different things and has different opinions. I know that reviews are only opinions, but as an author who puts their work out there to be read, it’s difficult not to take some comments to heart. Even if the overall review is great, there can still be a couple of words in there that can feel like a punch in the stomach. It’s hard to ignore them.
    Keep up the good work, and always remember that there is way more good than bad.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Hey Peggy, did you know that the guy in that wonderful commercial / rant is from my hometown of Truro?

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  4. Peggy Blair says:

    Thanks everyone! No, Beth, I didn’t — isn’t he the same guy who now co-hosts CBC As it Happens?

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