When you’re young enough to be wagging your tail because a boss or a teacher offers you praise, criticism is not always expected and can be hard to receive. Most of us have seen someone young and vulnerable get turned inside out because they worked hard on something and then somebody announced that it sucked.
On the other hand, if you’re old enough to have had a gastroenterologist sedate you so he could take color pictures of your entrails, you have probably learned one of life’s most important lessons: honest criticism is a good thing. If you believe in bettering yourself, you count on good people to be direct with you about your special brand of ineptitude.
Since ‘Church of Golf’ became available in late October, I’ve been ready for criticism. A guy can’t expect his first novel to be a perfect work of art any more than a four-year-old armed with a box of Crayolas could expect a commission for a Presidential portrait. So far, though, all the reviews have been uniformly positive. People seem to really like this book. I could not be more pleased or more surprised.
On the tiny island of Lanai, part of the Hawaiian chain, where most of the activity in ‘Church of Golf’ takes place, the local newspaper (‘Lanai Today’) featured a lovely article about my book. However, community newspapers and overworked editors have special way of doing things. They referred to my book as ‘Church of God.’ The main character was identified not as Donald O. Gibson but as Donald A. Gibson. Well as someone once said, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” Lanai has found its way onto my bucket list of places to visit.
A man from New Jersey (unknown to me) who is a golf book collector, a seller of rare golf books and has written reviews of about 100 golf-related books, gave me a five-star review on Amazon.com. Said he: “Writing about religion is tricky business and Stephens navigates the fine line required … . The author describes himself as someone who can break ninety on a good day of golf. I would say that for his maiden novel, he shot somewhere in the low eighties, a success indeed.” I tip my cap to this gentleman and hope we someday can play a round together.
The leading magazine for book dealers and librarians, Publishers Weekly, carefully selects books each issue for mention to its readers. In its January 19, 2015 issue, the editors saw fit to include a mention and a description of ‘Church of Golf.’ If I knew just who to thank, I’d bake them an apple pie and deliver it myself.
On Twitter (a fast-swirling universe I do not wish to spend much time in), several nice folks have taken time to mention ‘Church of Golf,’ including @golfcourier, @golfagent and @booklife.
More to come soon, no doubt.