Writers Write, Readers Digest, Critics Shit.

Once upon a time, not too long ago, I wrote a novel on a dare. It was called Trout in the Milk and it was the coming of age story of a boy growing up on the Prairies. A real modern day W.O. Mitchell gem. These days, with information whizzing and whirring to and fro at disorienting speeds, the novel found its way onto the desk of freelance reviewer Robin Harlequin. I was not aware of such an undertaking until my kindly dear, sweet, lovely friend Karen brought such things to my attention by emailing me the review, which I have featured in its entirety below. I will also, upon much thought, formulate a response of sorts to Ms. Harlequin's somewhat devastating review.

In the meantime, may the force be with you and have a merry ground hog day.


Trout in the Milk--In Review

Trout in the Milk is a brilliant yet harrowing tale of a young man’s struggle for meaning in a bleak and meaningless world. He goes on such a dark desolate journey of ennui and introspection that it seems as if Murray has reached down under the sink in his mother’s kitchen and read all the labels on the hazardous cleaning agents. One can be sure that after locating the substances he lined up the bottles and typed all the labels into a Microsoft Word document. Then he added a few “he said-she saids” and slapped a title on it. Indeed the title Trout in the Milk sounds like a cautionary newspaper article where the first sentence must inexorably read “Traces of trout found in milk on small backwoods Alberta dairy faming operation, family denies all knowledge of how the trout got into the milk in the first place but authorities say global warming has altered the this species of trout’s’ migration patterns considerably.”. This book is recommended for those that enjoy misery and all of her fine company. If you like puppies, Christmas morning, Paris Hilton, jujubes, the Philosopher Kings, cling wrap, oatmeal with cinnamon, or the smell of new crayons then this book is not for you. In this reviewer’s opinion this second edition with the new and extended Trip to Disney World Alternative Ending is a much needed respite from world-weary novel. If you want real life watch the news. Let fiction remain precisely what it is supposed to be: fiction.

Robin Harlequin is a freelance book reviewer and part-time nanny. She has reviewed many books including “Home decorating: Garden Gnomes Like You’ve Never Gnome Them Before” and “The Illustrated History of Three-Ply”. In her spare time she likes knit warm woolen mittens, shoplift and bake delicious custards. She likes long walks on the beach and she is looking for a fun-loving man who is open to trying new things.


I will try my best to avoid falling into Ms. Harlequin's traps that she sets so cunningly. However, if a bear sees the traps you set for him, how cunning can you really be? I will try my best to remain civil towards Ms. Harlequin and avoid defaming her character based on her work as she has done to me. My mother and father raised no vengeful crank. They raised a sweet and darling boy who grew into a sweet and darling hobo-novelist.

Allow me first to address Ms. Harlequin's most serious charge towards me, and that is her charge that I plagiarized Trout in the Milk from my mother's cleaning supply labels. These charges are unfounded and resoundingly false. I take great exception to these claims. Not only is this an affront to my integrity as a serious author on serious subjects such as the ones covered in Trout in the Milk. I also take great exception, even greater than the exception I take to Ms. Harlequin's personal attacks on myself, to the unprovoked affront Ms. Harlequin affords my sweet and darling mother. To even suggest that my mother would maintain a collection of household cleaning supplies is outlandish. Clearly the Help handle all cleaning supplies and they are only permitted to be handled in full view when mother and father are at the club for tennis and squash lessons or are out to a dinner party at a wealthy industrialist friend of theirs' estate.

Before my blood boils any more than it already has I will take my leave to go have tea with mother. However, I would just like to point out Ms. Harelquin's sophomoric wit when she contends, "If you want real life watch the news. Let fiction remain precisely what it is supposed to be: fiction." Hardy, har, har Ms. Harlequin. Your own fuzzy logic and debutante naïveté has trumped your own fuzzy logic and debutante naïveté once again! To suggest that the news is real life and fiction is merely fiction indicates how little you know of the world, the media, and most of all literature. Any fifth grade conspiracy theorist will gladly tell you that the news is a sham, and that the most poignant stories, the most meaningful tales, emerge not from the "boy in well" or "cat in tree" tripe found on television for our consumption during the supper hour. But, rather the most seminal reflections and recordings of the human spirit and the human condition have always been works of art, works of literature, works of fiction. Your paltry review does not demean nor injure me; rather it demeans and injures an immortal league of extraordinary ladies and gentlemen with the likes Homer, Jesus, Virgil, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Shelley, Hemingway, Bukowski, Kerouac, Kafka, and Atwood. For shame Ms. Harlequin, for shame!

Beyond barbs, I would also like to exchange contact information, and perhaps more (if you know what I mean, wink, wink, nudge, nudge, he says knowingly), with Ms. Harlequin. I am most definitely a lover of fun and am certainly open to trying any and everything at least twice. There is no place I would rather be than on a beach with a knock-out blond with a funny face in some period dress that is the opposite of revealing. Too many women these days display all the goods right out in the storefront, much like the big boxes flaunting their wood right out where the customers cavort (I am looking at you Home Depot). It is rare that you see such a striking beauty in such a delightful Victorian-era collar with a contemporary floral pattern twist. It screams "cometh and court me my fair suitor." Well I have news for you darling, I got your suitor right here! (Call me!)

"Rainbow Trout in the Milk" by Morgan Murray 2.2.07. Watercolour on paper.
Review by Karen Stevens, I mean Robin Harlequin.

1 comment:

Tam said...

That is very interesting that the assumption was made that Ma has a collection of cleaning supplies. Period. Or that they would be left in a dangerous, toddler-accessible area no less. Ms. Harlequin obviously hasn't been around.