It’s out! My latest poetry collection ALL THAT LIVES, CSI:Poetry of sex, death and pathology, is now on Kindle as an indie, only about £2, as well as in paperback from Red Squirrel Press. So if you fancy dipping a toe into poetry, check out the book, though strangely there is no Amazon category for ‘science poetry about the dying brain, together with funny erotic poetry about post-divorce dating’. Yes there’s dementia and the science of dying, but also humour and joy (much more of that, later!). It follows years of research working closely with neuroscientists, anatomists and pathologists, in various fascinating Writer in Residence posts. (US link here.)

I’ve also put my much-acclaimed related poetry installation SLICING THE BRAIN, an AV animated text film exhibited across Europe, onto youtube, in particular so that readers of the book can see the innovative dwindling sequence THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING BRAIN in action. See it here, but in full screen and highest res setting to get best results.

ALL THAT LIVES has had wonderful reviews and comments from eminent writers, scientists, publications, which are now in the Product Info, but now I need some Amazon customer reviews... which brings me back to sockpuppets. 1* reviews are naturally not popular with writers, but from someone who’s clearly read the book and doesn’t like it for stated reasons is fair enough.

got a sockpuppet? know your foe!
The sockpuppet, or perhaps troll, has only one aim - to rubbish your book and you, which includes damaging your sales and lowering your Amazon star average. They do this without bothering to read the book. So, why have I returned to these nuisances? Because I finally got one! I was looking at my crime novel THE ROTTING SPOT page and saw some new 5* reviews had appeared, and with them, a 1* with all the hallmarks of the sockpuppet.
 My sales are modest so I’m trying to be flattered though I now wonder if there’s some kind of trigger or algorithm when several 5* reviews appear. Here it is: ‘I can't believe this book has so many good reviews, the relationship between the two main characters is childish, and the stereotyping pathetic. Avoid unless you are desperate there are so many other books to read.’ Here’s another, for a much more successful author at about the same time, ‘So many good reviews for this book but I found the plot ridiculous; the book is ridden with stereotyped characters and takes the reader through an endless series of unrealistic and unconvincing developments and dialogues. Very disappointing because it started off well.’ Different reviewer’s name. Almost the same review. Here’s one for yet another author, again much more successful than I: ‘This was dire! The plot was weak; the characters shallow; and, the dialogue wooden. Not worth the price, nor the time spent reading it to the end hoping it would get better.’ Note the generic criticism - ‘stereotyped characters’. (I’m not sure which characters they mean. THE ROTTING SPOT has a borderline anorexic, homeopath mathematician, fitness fanatic, skull-collecting detective. You don’t get many of those.) Note the urging of others to ignore the 5* and 4*reviews, and often, to NOT BUY the book. Note the reviewer’s history - one good marker used to be they’d only written one review under that identity, though of course possibly many under others. Over the last week I’ve noticed the sockpuppeteers have been bunging in a 5* review of a book in another genre or some other product to try to avoid suspicion. Too late, you’ve been rumbled!

Troll? just click 'NO'!
These reviews are not helpful to readers and a nuisance to authors. They’ve lowered my star average considerably, and I’m no threat to anyone. But thank you to Chris Longmuir for pointing out that clicking on ‘No’ in answer to ‘Did you find this review helpful?’ will chase them down the queue, so if you come upon them unfairly rubbishing a fellow author, do take time to click ‘No’. Linda Gillard, super-selling author of superb e-books, has been urging Amazon to remove fake reviews or those who delight in posting spoilers. She writes: ‘I've been reviewed on Amazon since 2005 and the indifferent/bad reviews didn't used to be so lazy, short & dismissive. I just don't understand why people would want to write 20-word reviews. If a book's worth trashing, surely it's worth trashing well? It makes much more entertaining (& possibly helpful) reading.’ Not to a troll, or sockpuppet, sadly.

Mr Happy: 'Jungian journey'
However, now you and I need more laughs, so here they are. Forget sad and lonely trolls squatting under bridges. This will restore your faith in humanity, our creativity, our playfulness, our urge to share joy: the Amazon customer review has become an artform in itself. All sorts of products are now attracting these, in hundreds. You can read them like novels. Take a look at this: someone has invented a shelf so you can have your laptop open when at the wheel of your car: the reviewers have had a field day with this one! Hilarious. Here’s another gem: you can buy a cardboard cut-out model of David Cameron. I wonder what reviewers made of that... even the humble ‘banana slicer’ has attracted a slew of funny reviews. The bic pen 'for  her' (for smaller hands) is totally trashed and excoriated here: enjoy! And pass the link on to your daughters, and sons. Getting back to books, do look up the clever witty deconstructions of the deeper meanings behind the Mr Men books by ace reviewer, Hamilton Richardson, he's reviewed seven of them.

Surreal, crazy, angry, happy, sarcastic, ironic, this type of review could be a whole new set of Mr Men in itself! We could all use a good laugh even in the midst of pathology poems, so check out ALL THAT LIVES, and leave a customer review if you enjoy it - if not, leave a one-star review for a cardboard Cameron! And of course there’s always LYDIA BENNET’S BLOG to (Mr) Tickle your funnybone.

My website:


Dennis Hamley said…
I've only had one troll, who couldn't spell 'sombre'. Hamilton Richardson's reviews touch genius. When I left one of my jobs, my parting gifts included a Mr Messy wastebin. Now I know why.
Kathleen Jones said…
Bought it Valerie! Looking forward to reading.
julia jones said…
What a lively wide-ranging post. I'm very attracted by the deep meanings behind the Mr Mens (bane of my life. Hated them when my children had them and am now required to re-read to grandchildren)I am ashamed that I read so little poetry and am off to the Amazon shop to rectify this. Thank you.
Lydia Bennet said…
yes Dennis, bad grammar and spelling are often hallmarks of trolls, sockpuppets are usually literate folks in disguise.
Thank you Kathleen and Julia, hope you enjoy the poetry!

Popular posts

What's the Big Idea? - Nick Green

A Few Discreet Words About Caesar's Penis--Reb MacRath

A Glittering Gem of Black, Gothic Humour: Griselda Heppel is intrigued by O Caledonia by Elspeth Barker

The Splendid Rage of Harlan Ellison - Umberto Tosi

Misogyny and Bengali Children’s Poetry by Dipika Mukherjee