Monday, January 19, 2009

The Book of Names: A Genuine Fake Review

Well, here I am at the start of the CSFF blog tour of D. Barkley Briggs’s The Book of Names, and the publisher hasn't sent me a book yet. That can only mean another Genuine Fake Review!

(For what it's worth, should I ever get a copy of the book, I'll backdate a review, along with the tour links. But unfortunately Blogger's publish control only simulates time travel, so we're both stuck with a GFR.)

Just to be different, I thought I'd step you through the process of creating a Genuine Fake Review. You don't actually need a post-graduate degree in English to fake a review; it's just one of the many skills you pick up in self-defense along the way.

To begin with, you need to wade through some reviews. Not only will this give you the basic plot and characters, it will generally provide some cheap laughs you can work into the GFR. So let's have a look at the Amazon reviews page.

Right off we have our characters and even our initial gag:

"Hadyn, Ewan, Gabe, and Garrett Barlow are brothers, ages fifteen, thirteen, nine, and nine, respectively. Their lives were just turned upside-down, twice."

Normally that would be fatal to a book, because if their lives have been turned upside-down twice, they're rightside-up again. But we shall posit that they encountered a plot twist along the way, so their lives are indeed rightside-up again, but also inside out. ("Lives," not "bodies," please note: let's not get gross.) In other words, they suddenly are wearing their undies on the outside. While this spoils a certain amount of tension concerning the burning question of boxers vs. briefs, it produces a lot of tension in other ways.

Cutting to the chase: the four brothers are stuck on a farm with a briar patch. Dear old Dad takes a break from his ground-breaking work in Crazy History to tell them to clear out the briar patch. This will help them process their grief over their mother's recent demise. Of course, they can't deal with it directly, so in true Freudian fashion they have to hack a maze into the briars.

How symbolic.

Anyway, "the older Barlow brothers discover a relic inside the t[h]icket." Just what they needed: some geezer was holed up on their property. Probably Br'er Rabbit: "I was born in dis briar patch!"

But no such luck: it is in fact a runed arch. It would've been a "ruined" arch, but the "i" wore away over the years.

Worse yet, "four large, crow-like birds fly overhead, dropping a cryptic message, copied fourfold." As a rule, when birds flying overhead drop a message, there's nothing cryptic about it. "Messy," yes; "disgusting," certainly. But "cryptic"?

But there are runes everywhere, and even the birds' calling cards have them. (What have they been eating?) Loosely translated, the runes say, "Use the arch, dummies; otherwise the story will just kind of hang there."

So Ewan and Hadyn venture through the arch and find themselves in the strange world of Karac Tor. Most reviewers agree that there's some serious worldbuilding going on here, which is known in writers' jargon as "Karac Tor Development." Yes, it's a blend of Celtic and Scandinavian material, updated for alternative history buffs. Where's Crazy Dad when you need him?

Tune in tomorrow for more genuine fakery! Meanwhile,

check out the blogs of these snobs who probably got actual books:
Sally Apokedak
Brandon Barr
Keanan Brand
Rachel Briard
Valerie Comer
Frank Creed
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Shane Deal
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Timothy Hicks
Joleen Howell
Jason Isbell
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
Alice M. Roelke
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Phyllis Wheeler
Timothy Wise


cyn said...

I am not at all sure what goes on inside the head of SLR, and am too squeamish to venture a peek, but I do like what comes out.

I've got to say that I prefer reading your GFRs or GFIs to most anything else available on the internet.

Highly entertaining.


Steve said...

On head searches:

“All right, then, you must have put the lock pick somewhere… Wait! You scratched your nose! You must have stuck it in there, figuring that I wouldn’t check.”
“That would be pretty good figuring, if I were you,” Bob warned, but the policeman tried staring up Mike’s nostrils.
“Do you have a warrant for that?” Mike asked. “Anyway, if it’s any concern of yours, I never pick my nose in public.”
“I’ll take you downtown, and we’ll x-ray your head, if need be, but we’ll find that pick. And when we do—”
“Two things,” Mike replied. “First, as a fair warning, you can examine my head all you want; you won’t find anything.”
“Amen,” Bob murmured.
“And second, I keep my nose clean at all times, so wipe your feet before you storm the place.”
The Janus File

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