Friday, April 7, 2017

Ramming Speed Fridays: Snarko Edition

The first line of the description on Amazon for my book Leadville or Bust is:

“This is a book about one average guy's attempt to finish the Leadville 100 mountain bike race in Colorado's Rocky Mountains.”

Nowhere in the description or the introduction do I present the book as a how-to guide to finishing the race.  In fact, I don’t even claim to be a finisher in the descriptions because I kind of wanted it to remain somewhat of a mystery.  And my eventual crossing of the finish line was twenty four minutes shy of the cutoff.  So there’s that.  Oh, PRECEDING SPOILER ALERT.

I got a good chuckle at the fourth review of the book on Amazon by a guy named “Smarko.”
Smarko writes: “It's more about the author than about the race.”  And he gives the book a one star rating.

On the very same day that Smarky posted his review of my adventure memoir he also penned what appears to be his own magnum opus regarding another book in the Leadville 100 genre called The First Timer’s Guide to the Leadville 100.  I’m really happy to be associated with this book.  It seems like maybe a good companion to my book which is all about all the wrong things to do to prepare for and execute a one hundred mile mountain bike race in the mountains of Colorado.

S-Marko so eloquently opined about The First Timer's Guide: “Very good read. Lots of useful info for a regular Joe prepping for his top bucket list race.”

I like his riff on the “average guy” theme in my book with his “regular Joe” reference.  In other places I’ve referred to myself as an “average Joe.” So it seems as if Smarko has been perhaps doing his research and my subtle influence is showing through like a sagging slip.  But his review is also telling in other ways.  

Smark is apparently prepping for a big event in his life.  He was lured into reading my book…perhaps someone had recommended The First Timer’s Guide to him and when he went later to look it up came across Leadville or Bust and clicked “Buy With One Click” before he had time to reconsider.  Instantly realizing his mistake he searched again and came across the more helpful book for those who need reassurance and validation from others.  

It’s apparent the esteemed Amazon reviewer (ranked #699,437) knows his mountain biking lore.  He has reviewed the two aforementioned books as well as a host of other products.  He seems to like his Nazi themed flicks.  He has reviewed Operation: Nazi Zombies and also gave it one star as well stating: “I'd give it zero stars if I could. Soooo stupid.”  He doesn’t mention whether or not he watched the whole thing before deciding it was bad or if he simply turned it off three minutes in and since he could decide on anything better opted to write that scathing review before ambling back from his man cave to seek solace in a Hungry Man frozen dinner.  Similarly, he gave UFO: The Secret Force of Hitler one star and bestowed this amazing insight to all of us mindless Amazon drones: “Don't bother. Hard to follow. Need to drop the volume on the Russians so the interpreter can be heard better.”  I definitely won’t be watching it now that I know it is plagued with post-production issues.

Smarko and I do agree on the five star rating for the Amazon series Man in the High Castle.  I read the Philip K. Dick novel years ago and eager awaited the release of the series before binge watching it through to the end. The only thing that troubles me about Smarkum’s interest in the show is that it seems to continue a trajectory of fascination with the Nazis in our bold reviewer.  I rooted for the resistance.

Finally, to close the thread of this scatter-brained response to a review of my poorly written and self-edited adventure memoir about a mountain bike race that the majority of the world is totally and completely unaware exists I must share this review which redeems Smarko of all ill-intent.  His impression of the Chamois Butt’r Original 8 oz. Tube he gave it a five star: "It worls!" review, adding “It puts it on the skin.”  I’ve never seen whorling patterns in my chamois cream.  In fact, it’s hard to verify I’ve applied it evenly and completely without the help of a partner, but knowing that Smarko goes the extra mile and has seen the whorls in the butt cream makes me confident in his reviewing abilities and I must admit my bound toilet paper of a book, along with Operation Nazi Zombies and UFO: The Secret Force of Hitler deserve our lowly one star reviews. 

I guess he probably got a few pages into my book and realized he’d screwed up. It wasn’t the how-to guide he wanted.  It was only about some punter like me who was trying to inspire people and not actually offer any helpful information.  He simply closed the book, logged back in to Amazon, and offered his unbiased and professional opinion about my poorly written and hastily produced vanity memoir.

I felt like saying I was average and calling my efforts an attempt at the Leadville 100 would be some kind of clue to ward off those looking for literary gold or profound coaching strategies.  I have failed in that regard.

And so I must offer to Smarko and anyone else who came looking for boundless truth in my book a refund on your hope.  I will give it back as best I can.  When I return to Leadville in years hence I’ll add a chapter or two about what a successful finishing strategy might be for the Leadville 100.  If I go back.  If I feel like it.

But as of today I have four reviews and 75% of them were five stars.  So I got that going for me.


  1. Smarko missed the point, of course the book's about the author. It was a fun and interesting read, in part because I can sort of imagine myself in your place (except that I'd never finish). Much better than another "how to" book.

    1. Thanks for the feedback! Yeah, like I said, I didn't try to make the book out to be a how-to guide. Not sure how he missed that.