At this point, I have two authors that were kind enough to answer my questions about reviewing. One of them I met on Goodreads, the other was recommended by a complete stranger who happened to read my blog. In the end, I reached out to the latter, Mr. Frankie Metro. Up until last week, I had no idea who Frankie was. After the initial suggestion came in, I did a few searches and I quickly learned that Frankie is very active in the literary community. And although I have not read any of his work yet, I did read a few of his reviews; enough to know that he is passionate, fair, and open-minded when it comes to books.
From the beginning, I wanted this series to be as diverse as possible, giving voice to all kinds of reviewers and all possible perspectives.
So, buckle up your seatbelts, here comes Mr. Metro!
Do you have specific genres that you review, and what is your favorite one?
No specific genres per se. But I do review a lot of poetry books it seems. It’s kind of fucked up that this is the case, ‘cause I’m not a huge fan of poetry, at least my own, and the really bad shit. That’s not to say that I don’t pursue fiction just as diligently. I get solicitations for many fiction titles, and try to do my damn best to see them through. Reviewing prose or story collections is more of a challenge of course, and I think for that reason, if I had to choose, well, shit, as long as it isn’t music reviews from bands/sound artists with supreme promotional skills and no talent, as is sometimes the case, I’m pretty happy with the whole lot. Literature, in general, is held highest above all.
On average, how many books do you review each month?
0. I don’t make promises on timetables. I read several books at once typically. So if it takes me a month to review your book, it takes me a month. If it takes me six months, yeah maybe I’m procrastinating, but I’ll review it. This does not guarantee I’ll show it to anyone, and first and foremost, you have to understand, that you’re in a line. For example, I owe 2 book reviews right now (1 fiction, 1 poetry collection), which I have been sitting on for somewhere over 3 months. Hopefully the people that are interested have patience with the process.
Do you accept unsolicited review requests, or do you only review books you select yourself?
I get requests for book/music reviews via Unlikely Stories Episode: IV. When someone sends me an email, mostly people I’ve never heard of, I look at their synopsis, their press release, their pretentiousness even, and I gauge how much time I’m willing to spend in this person’s headspace. My acceptance/denial record is pretty even keel. However, I try to avoid writing reviews for friend’s books. I’ve had some difficulty with that in the past.
Considering the recent surge of self-published books on the market, what is your experience with self-published titles?
The Tentacles of Proofreading Mostly, people don’t put in the time they should on proper proofreading. They rush the product, to get it out there, because they need the instant gratification. That’s what services like that are good for unfortunately- feeding the generation express mindset. It’s not the best avenue, for sure, but hey, if you can take the time to be professional, fuckin a, it works.
As a reviewer, you have to state your honest opinions. Do you publish all reviews regardless of the rating?
Yeah. That’s why I try to leave friends out of the equation when it comes to reviews. Now “acquaintances” are a different story altogether. No holds barred, but I give everyone the same disclaimer regardless of who it is:
I will be thorough and honest. That’s it.
Is there any particular book or author that set the benchmark for you in a specific genre?
The four kings:
Thomas Pynchon-Gravity’s Rainbow
Roberto Bolaño-toda su obra
David Foster Wallace-Infinite Jest
What was the catalyst for you to become a reviewer, and what keeps you going?
I wrote reviews of different things in school of course, but never really got into it as much. The more recent immersion into the field came about after I saw that one of my favorite mags of the time (Decomp) was taking applications for a book reviewer on their page. Obviously I didn’t get the job, but I wrote 2 book reviews that peaked my interest. One was published sometime later by another site, while the other sits in a very dark corner of the world, hiding from daylight, ‘cause I’m friends with the guy now, and I wasn’t too impressed with the book at the time. Foresight is 20/20.
In your opinion, do you find the new titles original and creatively executed, or do you see more of a repeat of the same (think Hollywood's surge in remakes)?
I’m a little befuddled by this question. I guess if you’re asking me if this generation has anything more “original” or “creatively executed” than their predecessors, well, yeah. I mean, there wasn’t as easy an access to information 20-30 years ago as there is today. Fuck I just got interrupted by like 3 people asking to use this computer while I’m answering this question, which totally threw off my concentration. In short, I’ll just say that people can call their work original or whatever they like, but if they don’t believe it themselves, even if they don’t know and put forth the effort to be unique, then that will show. (Furthermore, there’s nothing creatively executed about being rude to someone by trying to get their attention when you see they are working on something. Asking me dumb questions like: “Are you working right now?” or “Do you go to school?” while I’m typing, isn’t going to get me off the computer any faster.)
Out of all the books you've read, are there any particular books or characters that stayed on your mind?
The deceased father from Infinite Jest. The child prostitute at the beginning of Henry Miller’s Under the Rooftops of Paris. Slothrop from Gravity’s Rainbow. And the pair of boxers from The Part About Fate ala Bolano’s 2666. These are just a few off the top of my head.
What is the one review you are the most proud of, and why?
I really liked my first review for Unlikely Stories Episode: IV Pacifist Road Rage in Nazi America
and I don’t think I’ve been as satisfied with another since. It took a lot of research, stepping outside of a primary focus on literature, and delving into the sociology of the highlighted characters versus the political implications that could be easily overlooked. So many times, I read a section of the great novels in my life, and ask myself questions about the author’s true intent: ‘Is he being racist with the persistent usage of “nigger” in this book?’ ‘Does this guy have a serious hard-on for tennis or what?’ etc. This leads me to investigate the authors themselves, delving into their noted history (Wikipedia page. History. Yeah,) which I find is often times the real reward from reading. Subtlety is no mask for the subconscious.
Frankie Metro lives in Albuquerque, NM with his wife and a bunch of hostile hostel guests that maddog him while he uses the common room computer. Sometimes they say nasty stuff about him in foreign languages. When he’s not doing that stuff, he writes book/music/event reviews for Unlikely Stories Episode: IV, and is co-founder of Kleft Jaw Press, an online/print publication dedicated to the progression of transcendental realism in art/literature.
You can find out more here:
Unlikely Stories: Episode IV
I'd like to thank Frankie for taking the time to answer my questions and for sharing his perspective. If you enjoyed this interview, please comment, share, or repost.