I’ve paid for four reviews of “The Happy Life of Preston Katt.” Two were, in my characterization, and as objectively as I’m capable of being, favorable. One was kind of favorable. The other was almost up to lukewarm.
I will confess that favorable comments tweak the needle on my happyometer toward the high end of the scale. Criticism bums me some. That being said, I do appreciate criticism with detail enough for me to focus on for improvement the next time.
For instance, in a review from Kirkus (kind of favorable), the reviewer wrote: “ … make him (Katt) emerge as a three-dimensional character … ” And later, “It may be more difficult, though, for readers to understand Katt’s apparent belief his misfortunes are punishments from God.”
That I found beneficial. A carefully placed phrase, or sentence, could well have addressed that reader/reviewer’s issue and turned Preston from a three-dimensional character to a more solid three-dimensional character.
The Kirkus review then went on: “He (Katt) never expresses the ‘happiness’ of the title.” This one I need to think long and hard about. Any piece of criticism I receive, I try to take seriously, and I do this one. But I meant the title both to fit the piece and to pay tribute to one of my favorite stories: The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber. So I will think about it for future endeavors.
Clarion gave me one of the reviews I consider favorable. This reviewer even posted her name, presumably a real name, not a Pen-review Name, at the bottom of her report. Her second last sentence reads: “Occasional overuse of modifiers and contemporary speech patterns are noted.” There again, a specific take-away, for which I am most grateful. During editing of “Preston Katt,” editors and I managed to “age” up some of those very things I had drafted, but obviously, some escaped the scrutiny.
Gaining an ounce of reader perspective was worth the price of the reviews.