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Ryan Moehring responds: Your criticism had better be water-tight

It's not an easy task to self-publish a book; it's a laborious process that involves a billion details that seem to crop up at the least opportune times, it's costly, and the reward for all your toil could very well be...pretty much nothing. But that's exactly what local author Ryan Moehring did in The Fried Twinkie Manifesto, which I ran through one-chapter book reviews last week -- and given the amount of work that doubtless went into the making of it, if my review was a bit tepid, it's probably understandable that Moehring is a little ticked. Here's what he had to say:

Mr. Otte:

Thank you very much for taking the time to review one story from The Fried Twinkie Manifesto. Reviewers like you give Indie authors like me the platforms from which to compete with traditionally-published books. With that gratitude in mind, I would like to provide your readers with some additional context to inform their view of the book and your review thereof.

1) Let me begin by saying that the sentence with which you took issue and upon which you seemed to base the majority of your critique is not a great (or necessary, for that matter) sentence. It is a baby, as you suggested, that I probably should have killed. About that much we agree. However, your eagerness to attack that sentence, I suspect, impaired your reading of the text.

Allow me to explain: Thor did not intervene in Jack's fight with Thor's friend, as you stated. While Jack and Thor's friends were amicably resolving their disagreement, an unprovoked Thor assaulted Jack with a crowbar. This fact lends credence to the notion that Thor does in fact randomly clobber strangers in the head with blunt objects, as my sentence suggests, because he randomly clobbered Jack. These facts are clearly outlined in the text. You would have done well, Mr. Otte, to employ the same discipline you indicted me for supposedly lacking, in your reading of the story.

2) On the subject of discipline, may I suggest you re-read the following sentence of your review: "'Jack's Lions,' the story I randomly flipped to (because that's the concept of one chapter book reviews, see, is I randomly select one chapter of a book and review it on that basis), gets off to a strong start." I have no problem with you telling me that I'm putting ruffles on a pig. But if you're going to base that criticism primarily on a single sentence of mine (which is at least coherent), every sentence of your criticism had better be water-tight. Again, perhaps you should have taken your own advice and killed that baby, or as you more articulately put it: "toss that shit."

Despite these two gripes, I am grateful for the review and for your time. Thank you. Should our paths cross in the city, the first round is on this "Nebraska boy."


Ryan Moehring

Ryan, thanks for the feedback, and I'm glad you are taking it in stride -- however, I have to take issue with your issue. While there is some evidence in the text to suggest that the dispute may have been being resolved amicably, let's at least acknowledge that, from the narrative perspective, we're not privy to what's really going on. There's enough ambiguity (given the context) to suggest that it may not have been so amicable and that the attack may have been planned all along.

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That said, I do know how it feels to be on the receiving end of a lackluster critique (see Matt Schild's A.V. Club review of my last album. That still stings a little), but that, I suppose, is the risk you take when you put your stuff out there. That's why, any more, I just hide behind my journalistic imperviousness and issue decrees from high in my tower -- because if you can't do, be a critic, amiright?

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