Four critics and a dead artist

In this blog I will include excerpts from five independent critiques of the book. The first and third are from Writer’s Digest commentary reviews for two contests I did not win.

#1  Writer’s Digest commentary

“EVOCATIVE THEMES. In Jewels of Change…lushly written story…on many levels… interesting plot twists and delivers a powerful message about life, death, and rebirth…story concept is fresh. Nello’s use of language is skillful. His voice is unique and he uses words in slightly unusual, yet effective ways. …unobtrusive research brings the story to life.”

#2  The following is an editorial evaluation by iUniverse and was the first commentary on the book before the line editing and quality review.

“The first chapter fails to properly engage the reader because it is difficult to follow the action. Events are not properly described or transitioned…. The sentences are often short and choppy, creating a singsong effect… Creating more sophisticated sentences would be appropriate for an adult audience. …dialogue fails to maintain a realistic or conversational tone….”

#3  Writer’s Digest commentary (second of two)

“This is one of the most ambitious novels I have read, not just for this contest but ever. …the most serious of literary intentions. For an average reader, …a challenging book, and I can see the difficulty of convincing a commercial press to take a chance on it, but for a serious reader of literature, it’s a great find among the mountains of trite and shallow and formulaic novels. Arthur Nello writes beautiful prose…elegant narrative, vivid descriptions, and compelling dialogue.”

#4  This review is from Kirkus Discoveries and is the only review to my knowledge posted on the Internet.

“A strange fictional menagerie of intertwining domestic plots and dreamscapes. …ever shifting sands…might make for an engaging tale, were the overarching storyline easier to follow. …Unfortunately, the novel is parsed into three somewhat insular sections linked only by their relation of different phases of Joseph Prigione’s life. …subsequent narrative…a New Agy take on the ravages of a broken home. …Though the work’s major insight, that children represent the jewels of change, resonates nicely, one must endure too many convoluted episodes to arrive at the conclusion: a turgid tale of aimless adulthood.”

#5  This, the last critique, is an excerpt from a Quality Review by Stan Baldwin, who also did the line edit for iUniverse.

“…Your sometimes admirably obscure, sometimes deceptively simple writing style echoes the subject matter beautifully. The novel is an exercise in imaginative freedom, in which riddle and reality coincide, as compelling as a dream and as profound as a graveyard. I hope this book will receive the recognition and success it deserves. You will need some able readers because your novel is not beach literature. This is a genuine work of art, and you have ciphered into it a virtual lifetime of experience, scholarship, and insight.”

* * *

Opinions vary, yet by now much may be puzzling if you think of them as exercises in objectivity, which by its nature, should reveal all criticisms the same. And opinions should be the same if critics themselves are cut from the same mold. They—as well as Supreme Court judges—evaluate subjectively with what they assert is objectivity, revealing more about the critic than the object criticized. Perhaps we are left with the idea of how valuable we are, how confused the world of work is, or how much we need to improve. In any case, we are surely busy little bees in this great hive we call earth.

I will not comment on the individual criticisms, and I only offer Oscar Wilde’s “Artist’s Preface” to his Picture of Dorian Grey where he says, among other comments:

“Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital.”

I’ll stick with Oscar with that one. He’s a good bet.