If You Can’t Say Something Nice, Say It on Amazon.com
I am a not-quite-recovered Amazon.com addict. To whatever extent I have achieved it, the recovery was brought about not by any actual desire to slow the pace of my one-click purchases, but rather by marriage and the need to limit my library to such a level that my wife and child are no longer endangered by the great piles of books that once rose precariously from any horizontal surface that would hold them, and that threatened to crush anyone caught nearby whenever a bus or truck rumbled by our home.
But I still buy books from Amazon from time to time, and my most recent purchase was a guilt-free one in that it was a title the Divine Mrs. Dunphy wanted to read as well, the new Dick Cheney memoir, In My Time. I ordered it on Friday Sept. 2, and Amazon and the Postal Service cooperated to have it in our mailbox the following Tuesday, the day after Labor Day. Well done.
I like to read the customer reviews on the Amazon site, though when it comes to political books they’re worthwhile more for their own intrinsic entertainment value than for any real guidance they might offer on whether or not to buy the book. And when it comes to Cheney’s book, they were often hilarious.
At the time of this writing there were 88 customer reviews for In My Time. Forty-one reviewers rated it boffo with five stars while 34 panned it and gave it only one. The rest were somewhere in the middle. Cheney is a polarizing figure, so it’s no surprise that the reviews broke down as they did. What was surprising was how many people just couldn’t wait to give the book a bad review, even to the point that reading it was a formality easily dispensed with. Nine of the one-star reviews were posted on Aug. 30, indicating that those people somehow got hold of a copy, read through all 576 pages, then sat down at the keyboard and posted their scathing notices on the very day the book was published. Quite an accomplishment.
What’s more, some reviewers seem to have made a hobby of ripping conservative authors. For example, someone who goes by the handle Tricky Nicky has posted 23 reviews, every one of them on a book by a conservative author and every one of them a screed on how dreadful both the author and the book are. “After reading this book,” he or she writes about In My Time, “it's clear to me that Dick Cheney is a sociopath and a megalomaniac. There isn't a hell hot enough for this sorry excuse of a man to burn in.” Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, and many others are described in similar terms, as is Mark Steyn, though for some reason – perhaps a technical glitch or an inadvertent mouse click – his book earned five stars from Tricky Nicky.
But not all the reviewers of Cheney’s book were so uniformly harsh on their Amazon purchases. Someone calling herself Love to Sew (we can presume she’s a woman) called Cheney “the Evil One” while giving his book one star, but she was much more pleased with another Amazon find: She gave four stars to the Exquisite Form Women's Front Close Cotton Posture Bra, in white, size 42DD. It’s “comfortable and doesn’t chafe,” she says, for which we can all congratulate her. The bra doesn’t chafe, but as far as Love to Sew is concerned, Dick Cheney does.