Anyone in the queer literary scene will know Amos, or know of him. He reviews books on Amazon. He's just not any reviewer, according to Lambda Literary:
"[H]e is one of the most influential Amazon reviewers in the nation — especially when it comes to the categories for gay romance, gay fiction, gay and lesbian erotica, DVD, and documentary. An Amazon Top 50 Reviewer and a member of the Amazon Vine Program—a highly-coveted, invitation only badge—he has reviewed 3,683 products to date and receives hundreds of review submissions a month. He was kind enough to share a summary of his favorite titles for 2010. From indie publishers to top houses, from romance to poetry to literary fiction, Lassen’s carefully curated list is as diverse as his evolving tastes."
I joined the group because I thought it was just a fan group for Amos. I didn't know he was "under attack." The charge was plagiarism, and Lassen has recently removed all his reviews from Amazon. He's has started a blog where he now reviews books.
If this shows something (anything at all), it shows that the world of Amazon reviewing is cutthroat. This ain't the New York Times. Fuck Michiko Kakutani. Amazon Customer Reviews has Harriet Klausner.
How Harriet Klausner is the shit:
1) Harriet Klausner is the #1 reviewer on Amazon.
2) Harriet Klausner has over 23,000 reviews.
3) Harriet Klausner has 88,978 helpful votes.
4) Harriet Klausner has a Wikipedia page.
5) Harriet Klausner has an Appreciation Society blog
6) Before writing each review, Harriet Klausner eats a bucket of nails and washes it down with Bleach.*
7) Harriet Klausner used to fuck Hemingway without lube. Afterwards, Hemingway cried and then shot himself in the face.*
(* not verifiable facts, but assumed to be true)
And perhaps the most important thing you need to know about Harriet Klausner is that she hates competition. Or at least her fans do. From the Appreciation blog:
Harriet has a competitor? Amazon Top 50 reviewer Amos Lassen
Not that this represents any material threat to our dear Harriet, but the phenomenon is curious in its own right. Apparently plagiarism is rampant on the sacred pages of Amazon. Our correspondent alerts us about another Amazon top reviewer, someone named Amos Lassen. I haven't looked into it in much detail, but upon a cursory perusement it seems interesting. Here's Amos Lassen's reviews page with comments. Many familiar names amongst the critical commenters! Check it out. Oh yeah, there's more: our correspondent points to this Amazon discussion thread for more talk about reviews plagiarism in general and this reviewer in particular (I haven't checked it out, so see for yourselves).
Well, once more: no one beats Harriet at the sheer absurdity of her good works, but hey... there's enough room for everyone under this sun! Check it out and share your thoughts.
Our thanks to our correspondent for pointing us to this new (or not so new, actually -- but certainly new for us) event.
Lassen has been a threat for Klausner spot. It was a time to end it. Enter the attacks. They started as late as October; as reviewer "Jason Kirkfield" writes on the Amazon message board:
The description is obviously of Lassen, who teaches writing at the University of Central Arkansas. The attacks continued (and continues at this writing), with "evidence" of Lassen's crimes (since the reviews have been deleted, there is no more evidence, everything is hearsay), spying on Lassen's Facebook group, etc.
Authors have chimed in to show their support, including DAC (Daniel Allen Cox), Bryan Borland, and Edmund White. Meanwhile, Lassen leaves Amazon, Harriet Klausner is still number one, Jason Kirkfield can continue writing reviews for baby books:
Don't judge his taste. In the world of Amazon reviews, it's not the words that matter (despite what the message board might hint at). It's about who can put out the most reviews, no matter how vague. As book reviewers at The Onion recently learned:
1. Praise Generically and Effusively.
2. Pad with Easily Discoverable Background.
3. Positive Reviews Are Much Less Likely to Be Challenged by Their Subjects.
This is how Klausner has gotten to top. This is how she stays at the top.
I'm not saying Amazon reviewers have no influence on book sales. Yet their Amazon reviewers. These are the same people who go into a brick-and-mortar bookstore and say "How much is this book? List price? I'm not paying that. [Husband's name] did you know this is like a bookstore? They're selling books at full price." (This was based on a conversation I had with a customer when I worked in a bookstore, no lie).
These are also the customers who write this.
Neopets, fighting with people about neopoints and fake food and fake houses. To Jason Kirkfield and others: isn't it time to grow up? You know, spend less time arguing over Amazon reviews (alas, have we replace our own reality so soon)? When was the last time you actually sat down and savored a book? Get giddy at the way the words dance across the page? Smile and cry at instances of recognition? Ponder over ideas traditionally laid out as fact?
In other words...LEAVE AMOS LASSEN ALONE!