Ladies and Gentlemen, gentle readers: I adjure you to tread softly when you review books on any site where books are reviewed.
As most of you know, I am autistic. I have little to no ability to soft-pedal, and no ability whatsoever to suck up to people, whether they are potential customers for something I might be selling on eBay, or whether they have written a book that has drawn accolades from well-known reviewers.
And so it was that, having bought a book from an online bookseller, having read that book, and having been asked by the bookseller to review it, I did so.
The book didn’t float my boat. In my opinion, it lacked a good deal. My review was much more reserved than my full-on opinion, but in the interest of giving the author a break and not putting potential readers off, I went easy.
It seems that my review wounded the author’s feelings, and he sent me a letter. This surprised me.
I have never considered myself an important writer, and certainly not an important reviewer.
The letter I received from the author of said book made me wonder if I had morphed overnight into some lauded writer, whose “C+” review might actually mean something.
It accused me of everything from sullying the author’s reputation, to negatively affecting his income, to damaging his health.
Good grief! The next thing, I fear, will be a letter from said author’s attorney, or worse yet, a summons of some kind.
Grief, grief, grief.
The reason I am sitting here in this barn–yes, I do mean barn, literally, not figuratively–is that fourteen years ago, I opened a registered letter. It informed me that I was being sued for half a million dollars, and that I was summoned to a hearing in a far-away state. I barely had the means to put beans on top of rice, not to mention traveling!
At that time, gentle readers, I had just lost my job; my child was desperately ill; and I was already spiraling into the depths of a depression that was resistant to every antidepressant on the market, because it was a Bipolar Depression, which behaves differently from Major Depressive Disorder. Antidepressants just make things worse. The specter of ECT loomed on my horizon. I fought it off with brooms, and cans and cans of Raid™.
That Registered Letter was the straw that catalyzed my first hospitalization. But that did nothing to avert the rumble of the approaching juggernaut of the pending lawsuit. Stomp, stomp, stomp, like a bad Japanese movie. Only this was no movie.
All of the lawyers I contacted said the suit was a frivolous attempt by the plaintiff to gouge money out of hundreds of caregivers, and that I would certainly be exonerated, and could then file a countersuit for damages.The only thing was, the lawyers wanted a retainer of $25,000-$35,000 up front. And I was penniless.
So I did the only thing I could do: I went bankrupt. The few things of value I still had to my name went away in one horror-struck day.
I will never forget seeing the repossessors come and haul away the little car that I had used for work and house calls. My big horse trailer went too. Anything else of value was carried off in due time. I was left sitting in a mostly empty single-wide trailer, on land that was thankfully untouchable by the vultures that swirled around my head.
Now that I am in fact homeless, I feel more at ease, because I don’t have anything to steal. I don’t even have a reputation to feed and care for. I am Just Me.
I no longer accept registered letters. If it’s a check from Publisher’s Clearing House for a million dollars, I imagine they might call. Or maybe not. What does it matter?
At this point, my energy reserves are at their nadir. I have just spent nearly four years helping my father to die, in great pain and suffering for both of us. I’m happy that his suffering is over; and I must say that it is a great relief, as I feel very sure that he is in a good place and out of pain. But it’s taken an enormous toll on my own resistance to diseases, physical and psychological.
The aforementioned author’s thinly veiled threatening letter has set off a cascade of paranoid thoughts: what would I do if he decided to sue me for….for….um, for honestly reviewing his book? What has the world come to?
What would I do?
I am weary. I don’t know how much more I can take. There are times when I long to go up on some high mountaintop with a fifth of good single-malt, and drink it until I become numb, and let the bitter cold of the night take me Home.
And then I think: how well do I know the evils of this world! But–what if there really is an Afterlife? What if there really is a God, who gave us laws? What if suicide is seen as murder, in that Other World? Meh. I just want This World to be over.
I am sick and tired of paying the Honesty Tax.
I wanna go Home.