In March 1993 my novel, Sick Burn Cut, was reviewed in the Portland, OR underground monthly newspaper, Paperback Jukebox, by Susan Polk in her book review column, Word Beat.
And a big thank you is due to Vanessa Renwick and Marty Kruse’s memories for Portland subcultural history, and also a big thank you to the publisher of Paperback Jukebox, David Myers, for find and scanning the review for me. Even after I gave him the wrong date for the issue he was super nice enough to look further and find the correct issue.
The reviewer Susan Polk did not like Sick Burn Cut, at all. Not one little bit. And you can’t argue about someone’s taste in fiction. And who am I to complain? Ms. Polk’s vitriol created my very favorite blurb about Sick Burn Cut. “[Sick Burn Cut] resembles a candy necklace which has spent the day in the clutches of a three-year-old. Sure, it’s strung together, but it’s so disgusting that no one would want to eat it.” Thank you, Susan Polk.
But, there is one thing I want to clarify. Ms. Polk seemed to think that my character “Sayyid Husayn”‘s name is a play on the name of the former dictator of Iraq, Saddam Hussein.
“Sayyid” is an English transliteration of an appellation used throughout the Islamic world to mean a person (“Sayyida” for a woman.) who claims to be a descendent of the Household of the Prophet Muhammad via his daughter Fatima and her sons, Hassan and Husayn (these are all English transliterations).
“Husayn” (spelled any number of ways) is a very common first name (Husayna for girls) for boys born into Muslim families. Very much like David, John, James &c are very common English first names derived from the Bible/Christian tradition.
And I would never refer to one of my characters as “swarthy”, that is libelous defamation on the reviewer’s part. “Surly”? Absolutely.
But, of all the reviews of Sick Burn Cut, this is among my favorites because you can tell the reviewer read the whole book, the review is so hate-filled and vituprative. And anytime I can generate this sort of obsession with my work, I’m doing good work indeed. And Ms. Polk did give me the best back-of-the-book blurb ever.
And with much thanks for David Myers’ help, you can now see what all the fuss was. Here is Susan Polk’s review. (And below that is the great cover of that month’s issue of Paperback Jukebox), by Carl Annala.
No, this doesn’t mean a re-release of Sick Burn Cut is imminent.