Thursday, November 30, 2006


I got my first bad review -- from my old high school newspaper. The place where I started out. The Smoky Hill Express

Under the headline, "Cross-X educational but boring," critic Kaely Moore writes:
Don't pick [Cross-X] up for a bit of light reading unless you're an insomniac and are looking for a new way to fall asleep.

She adds:
it is sorely lacking in entertainment. Perhaps because Miller is a journalist, his book is written in a relatively journalistic style. It's almost like a documentary, with no real feeling, no deep emotion, no true heart to his story. What's the fun of reading 480 pages that sound exactly like a newspaper?

Counting how many times Miller used the word "bureaucrat" (at least 17) was more fun than reading the rest of the book. Cross-X tells the stories of individual people, of their struggles and aspirations in the field of debate, but it doesn't really say anything about who they really are.


Call it karmic retribution, from back in the day when I'd load a blank sheet of paper in the old type writer and just go off. Kaely's an Express reporter cut from the same cloth as me!

Fist up for disaffected suburban youth!!

(BTW, they did also run a real nice article by Alan Dicker, who, judging from his story, actually read the book.)


Lora said...

Is she kidding?? No feeling? No emotion? No heart? Someone needs to tell this reviewer that the book starts on page 1, and that it is not printed on the back of the book jacket. Cracking open the spine of the book was obviously too much for her. Sad. Her loss.

Tony said...

Ah, ah, this hurts me because I know that everyone wants to think that the people they came from are rooting for them at least. Still, a high school girl saying something is boring is pretty much an endorsement for those of us who have an attention span longer than a an episode of TRL.

joe said...

I think it's hilarious. It's absolutely karmic revenge. I wrote WAY meaner stuff when I was her age, with even less substance and research behind it.

What goes around comes around.

heidi said...

Typewriters. I remember those. [sigh] Does that mean we are geezers now?

Anonymous said...

That's funny. I remember my days as a music reviewer at the Smoky Hill Express. I felt like saying anything nice about anything was letting my guard down and not doing my job. In the end, I guess I wasn't all that different from most professional music reviewers.

It's good to see that little has changed at Smoky Hill. I wonder if kids still smoke cigarettes behind the7-11 across the street, munching on the candy bars they just boosted from the same store.

joe said...

I've got news for you. The 7-11 is now a Starbucks!

The kid who interviewed me for the Express looked at me like I was crazy when I told him that teens would cruise the tiny parking lot of 7-11, jamming it with slow traffic as if it were Main Street, until some idiot kid would say his parents weren't home, then the whole mass oof kids would descend on his house and drink wine coolers and trash it before the neighbors called the cops.

Ah, the 80s.

Pete said...


You might as well have kids if you're gonna get trashed like that by the younger generation. I am not sure you deserve it but her comments remind me of the time you played something by Black Flag or some other hard core group from the'80's or '90's and then asked me why I couldn't stop laughing. The reason of course was that just like my parents said to me about rock and roll in the late '60's and early '70's it sounded just like noise. So it goes.

Makkyla said...

I just read page 69....hmmm...not sure if she isn't right.

Jake Miller said...

this is awesome.
i think this girl is hilarious.
you should send her a personal note of thanks.

Anonymous said...

The 7-11 is a Starbucks?! Say it ain't so! I guess that makes sense, seeing as it's Aurora and all. I thought they had put a Starbucks up the street where that grocery store is. Apparently, you can't have too many Starbucks in suburbia. There were a lot of memories at that 7-11.

I think you and I went to Smoky Hill in slightly different eras, Joe. The scene you describe at 7-11 occurred more often at the Taco Bell in that same shopping center as the Albertsons, less than a mile to the east. It's where everyone would amass after the first mixer of the evening got broken up by the cops. Then some poor kid whose parents were out of town got peer-pressured to death until he or she (usually a she) relented and allowed well over 100 stoned and drunk kids over to their place. That decision always proved disastrous for the one kid, but was always good news for everyone else involved.

Did they have the smoker's corner when you were in school there, down by where the school kept the dumpsters?

joe said...

There wasn't a specific smoking spot. We grabbed smokes wherever we could hide.

One thing that IS the same: Mr. Weisman is still there. I saw him in November. He said he'll never retire. He's even still in the same room.

Anonymous said...

You are so, like, out of it for not respecting the words of a high school girl just because she didn't think your boring old book wasn't really exciting like "The Devil Wore Prada" or that book by Stephen King where the high school girl got all freaked out by the pigs blood at the prom and started doing psychic madness on the mean kids. If your book was more like Stephen King or even like the "Sweet Valley" teen books, maybe you would have gotten a good review from the high school paper. Some of us don't want to read about real kids with problems. We want to read about girls wearing Prada or disturbed girls with psychic powers who cause the nasty kids to get their heads cut off and die in fiery car crashes. I'm glad that chick dissed you. Unless there's a chapter in your book about fashion or buckets of pigs blood, I can't imagine anyone I know who would buy it unless it was required reading for a really boring social studies class. By the way, if you want to write a good book that people would like and really care about, I know a girl from my home room who got the mumps and went deaf. And then she was in a really bad car crash and had her leg amputated.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I disagree with that statement. Which one? Well, most of them, actually. You can't just assume that, because a high school student wrote the review, that they don't "have an attention span longer than an episode of TRL." You don't know anything about this girl - what her interests are, what she's like. You can't make assumptions and generalizations. All it does is show ignorance. Isn't it possible that she read the book and just didn't like it??? Maybe it wasn't her thing. But to just say that she couldn't possibly have read it, or that her mind was simply too small to grasp the importance of such a book, is, to put it quite simply, stupid. And disappointing. Are all adults so naive as to forget how hard it is to be taken seriously as a teenager? How frustrating?

And in response to the last anonymous poster, I'd have to say that you just made the situation worse. There are good books with important messages. You make it sound like all high school students are mindless idiots who read comic books all day. It's true, I can analyze Harry Potter to its very core, but that doesn't mean that all I read are children's fantasy novels.

Oh, and the 7-Eleven closest to Smoky Hill is still there. The one down on Smoky Hill and Chambers has been made into a Starbucks. There are still areas where kids choose to smoke.... Smoker's corner across the way, or that area just across the street from the 7-Eleven that still exists. Have a nice day.

Anonymous said...

And Kaely Moore rocks.