Dear readers, the commoners have reviewed Margo Howard’s book … and Ms. Howard is not pleased.
A bit of background: long-time advice columnist Howard wrote a memoir called Eat, Drink, and Remarry: Confessions of a Serial Wife. Publisher’s Weekly called it a “touching” memoir by a “pampered princess” that relied heavily on name-dropping for its draw.
Amazon’s critics were less impressed—specifically, Amazon’s “most trusted” reviewers who, Howard says, are given “freebies…cold cream, sneakers, pots and pans, and…books!” and allowed to review them in advance of their publication date. She is not a fan. These reviewers—“the freebie people,” Howard calls them—are “dim bulbs,” they are “evangelical, unworldly,” “barely literate, and “deluded.”
The irony, of course, is that in trying to show that she’s not, as the “freebie people” say, a coddled, name-dropping, well-connected rich lady, Howard comes across as a well-connected rich lady. Everything from her name-dropping (both a MacArthur genius and a long-time Vanity Fair staff writer loved her book!) to her solution to the problem (it turns out that Howard knows two members of Amazon’s board of directors!) smacks of barely-examined privilege.
Still, I can feel Howard’s pain. Show me a writer who hasn’t felt savaged, misunderstood, unfairly attacked, or completely misread by an Amazon reviewer, and I’ll show you a writer whose books live in shoeboxes under her bed. I suspect that there are, indeed, reviewers who skim books looking for references of stuff they don’t have—a nanny here, a remodeled kitchen there—so their review can scream RICH LADY PROBLEMS in all caps.