Monthly Archives: August 2014

What Amazon did to Goodreads

So, in my inbox this morning, I get the following from the lovely folks at Goodreads:

Hi [user name redacted],

It’s OK to be an introvert. But procrastinator? Time to get Quiet off your want to read list. Listen to it, for free, with an Audible trial.

Narrator Kathe Mazur gets the pacing just right, creating space for Cain’s power-packed gems.

And there is a button that will take me to the Audible.com website for a free trial offer.

My first thought: it’s kind of insulting to be called a procrastinator and urged to get off my ass by some stranger.

Second thought: this is what Amazon did to Goodreads.

Of course you know that Amazon acquired Goodreads last year, but this is the first time I’ve received spam from Goodreads on Amazon’s behalf (Audible.com is an Amazon company). Chief Goodreader Otis has always claimed that Amazon’s acquisition of Goodreads can only benefit the reader, but how receiving time-wasting, useless bullshit in my inbox benefits me I can only guess. If I wanted to join Audible.com I would have done so already. It sure benefits Amazon, though.

I was thinking of maybe posting reviews on Goodreads again since Booklikes has that cross-posting option to make it easy to do, but now I think, naah. It just kinda turns me off. Goodreads has a wealth of great data and greater users. It’s a shame that it’s just a big marketing machine.

Like I’ve said before, I can’t blame Amazon too much since you sort of expect this stuff from a soulless conglomerate. And Amazon does provide good service. But as a consumer, I am careful to keep my relationship with Amazon on a tight leash: I give them money, they give me what I want and they stay out of my life. Otis, though, had a choice and he chose to sell out. It’s not my place to judge the guy but it’s not the choice I would have made.

Anyway, I guess it’s not a big deal. Maybe there’s a way to unsubscribe from crap e-mails inviting me to spend my money on stuff I don’t give a shit about. But it does rub me the wrong way and reminds me why Goodreads kinda sucks now.

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Stick by Elmore Leonard

In 1985 there was this movie called Stick, starring and directed by Burt Reynolds and this movie was based on the Elmore Leonard novel of the same name, published in 1983. I haven’t seen the film, but I’ve heard it’s pretty lame. I even heard that Leonard’s experience with the film was so bad that he disowned the whole deal. I guess others felt the same way since it was a box office flop. I just mention this because while reading the novel Stick I just could not see Burt Reynolds as Stick. I kept imagining him all through the novel as my main man Lee Marvin. And J.B. Smoove would have been the perfect Cornell. Now, I realize that you’d have to get a couple of time machines to get these guys together for a 1985 production, but hell, I would have seen that movie.

Stick‘s about a guy named Ernest “Stick” Stickley, an ex-con (though my dad would have argued that there is no such thing as an “ex”-con; once you’re convicted you’re convicted, unless it’s overturned. It’s pedantic, but I feel a compulsion to mention that) fresh out of the stir and ready to make a clean life for himself. He’s moved to Miami to be close to his daughter and his hostile ex-wife (in this case “ex” works). He hooks up with a prison buddy called Rainy who’s got a gig going on, but when it goes down things go horribly awry. Rainy gets himself killed, and Stick realizes that bullet was meant for the new guy–in other words him. Stick then lays low and gets a job as a chauffeur for a rich financial guy named Barry who’s too slick for his own good.

But the world works in funny ways and Stick soon realizes that Barry has dealings with a weird dude named Chucky, the same guy that sent Rainy on his final, ill-fated job! Sooner or later Stick and Chucky’s path are bound to cross and Stick’s just remembered that he never got the five-grand promised him for that job. Throw in a smart and sexy financial advisor for Stick to chase and a Dude-Ranch-reject-cowboy-wannabe working with Cuban mobsters to chase Stick and you’ve got yourself a good time.

Stick is everything you’d expect a novel from Elmore Leonard to be: smart, witty and cool, with easy no-nonsense prose that sounds more like some guy just talking to you than reading a book. It’s a good read. That being said, there’s nothing in Stick that really stands out. The novel begins and ends pretty well, with a little bit of meandering fluff in between. But it’s still a fun book full of interesting characters and sharp dialogue. I understand thatStick is a follow-up to Leonard’s 1976 novel Swag, also featuring Ernest Stickley. I hear that one is pretty good, so I’ll have to track it down.

My verdict: ★★★✬✩ (3.5/5 stars). Stick‘s a good book that just falls short of being excellent. There’s everything you expect from Elmore Leonard and even though the plot sort of suffers from a lack of impetus, you still can’t go wrong with anything Leonard writes.

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