Or at least that would be the implication from reading this bit from a recent interview on Temple Library Reviews:
HM: Reading your reviews I come across a very peculiar ranking system of 100 points that always aroused questions. What’s the deal behind it and what components build these 100 points?Interesting. So it is not enough to view a review as being an interpretative (and occasionally persuasive) essay that attempts to reconcile the reviewer's interpretation of what is transpiring within a book with the attempt to communicate effectively with the potential reading audience. Apparently some number, letter, or parts of a gorilla's bare ass have to be employed as the final and only arbitrator between book and reader. Never mind the subjectiveness of such rankings (really, I am wondering if I should rate horror books by the number of whacks that Lizzie Borden's axe reportedly gave); the number/letter/perky tits up is the thing here. After all, "words lie," if one listens to Paul Stotts (and really, why wouldn't one? After all, read the article and see who he holds up as paragons of reviewing). Numbers/letters/strange glyphs that correspond to the number of pimples on Paris Hilton's bare ass in her sex video - those are the truth.
PS: I think writing a review, and not giving it some sort of numerical score is a cop out; it’s cowardice—pure and simple—since many online reviewers don’t want to upset publishers or authors. So they write reviews that are open to interpretation, using nebulous terms like good, overemphasizing the positive aspects of the book, trying very hard not to have an opinion. It’s okay, you’re entitled to have an opinion, you’re entitled to take a stand and let people know what you think.
See, words lie; numbers don’t. And I don’t want to lie to my audience. So I score every book on a scale of 100. Like any review, the number is completely subjective; there are no underlying components. I score books by ranking them against other novels I’ve read in the genre. It’s rather simple. But effective.
What a load of shit (three loads of shit out of five? 5.75 out of 10 handfuls of flung monkey crap?). A review is a review essay. Whether it be something by H.L. Mencken, Lewis Grizzard, Jorge Luis Borges, John Clute, or Pope Benedict XVI, a review consists of words strung together in a fashion to lay out an interpretation of what is transpiring in a written/visual work, how the observer responds to what is occurring, and how well the observer can translate emotions/thoughts into a coherent piece of writing that gives others things to consider, among several other things I omit for brevity's sake. I model my reviews, or at least the lengthier ones that go past 1500 words, on academic critiques. It is something of value to me and I hope for others. But as a model, I recognize there are flaws to it; it won't satisfy everyone, nor should it.
But whenever I (and I would hope others) take the time to write an essay that attempts to review aspects of a constructed work (visual, audio, written, or some combination), I would imagine that the effort is that of communication of a whole host of matters and not some attempt to reductio ad absurdum an often complex set of interactions with a text into a dumbed-down, oft-distorted summation that bespeaks more of a certain segment of an audience's unwillingness (I'm being charitable, as some might presume it'd be that audience's inability) to grasp anything much more complex than "Two legs bad, four legs good!"
But what do I know? If I were to read between the lines of Stotts' comments on the "elitists" who poormouth his almost-saintly influences, I would (without having a pictogram to illustrate this point, alas!) wonder if he were talking about the likes of poor widdle me. It is rather baffling, if not dismaying, to see the "elitist" label (misconstrued here; might as well call people such as myself pinko commie bastards who want to assrape your children, based on the context) thrown about in such a careless fashion. It shows, just as much as the condemnation of those who prefer to let words (lies as they may be to Stotts and others of his ilk!) create nuances that show at least some respect for the written language and its ability to move readers to consider the presenter's point of view in regards to a work.
But this essay is doubtlessly "cowardly" as well. So for those who refuse to consider the "lying" words, here's my one and only ranking of his comments:
Two smegma scrapings off of a diseased-ridden man's dick out of 10 possible scrapings.
Then read something elsewhere. I have to somehow try to work up the "courage" (said in a Cowardly Lion voice) to be more blunt in my criticisms, even if I still won't toss out meaningless numbers to make my reviews so easy that the Geico Caveman could grasp them. And as for the person who was interviewed and whose comments I quoted - barely know of the guy. Guess that is the most damning comment of all, unfortunately.