Keeping the Accurate in Accuracy

I’ve never made it a secret I have Asperger’s syndrome. To the contrary, I have been quite up front about it. As an Aspy, one of my biggest bugbears is inaccurate book reviews. I would never try to censor someone’s opinion of any book, but the facts they list as the reason they dislike the book need to be factual rather than fictional or I become peevish.

This has, of course, happened to my book upon occasion. There are two incidences which stick out in my mind. The first is when a reviewer accused me of not explaining why I said Henry VIII did not have syphilis. Did they somehow miss the first five pages of the book wherein I did a point-by-point analysis of the debunking of that theory? The second is when I was accused of changing the spelling of Catherine of Aragon’s name to Katherina at random. Considering that I put the reason why I changed it (on several documents she signs her name Katherina; sometimes she also spelled it Katherine and Katharine) in the first sentence about Katherina’s life in the book, how did the reviewer miss it?

I am also driven mad by accusations of historical mistakes that are themselves incorrect. This is especially vexatious when they are citing something they read in historical fiction. What part of the word “fiction” made them think they were reading a history text?

It also happens to books I have read, and even if I myself am not a fan of the book any inaccuracies in a critique of it makes me bananas. When I am a fan of a book, it is especially aggravating. For example, when people review The Creation of Anne Boleyn and say that Dr. Susan Bordo’s book wasn’t well-researched because it contradicts some of the shallow research done by fans of historical fiction. My head could explode. Or when someone accuses Amy Licence’s book In Bed With the Tudors of being poorly researched and inaccurate. Having dug into some of the same source material I can attest that Amy Licence’s book was hella well-researched. Or when someone reads the impeccable history of Anne Boleyn by Eric Ives and complains because it is “too” detailed and isn’t “storytelling” and doesn’t give enough credit to discredited theories the reader has seen elsewhere. Or attacking a whole book over one facet; even though I agree with the historians who believe Retha Warnicke’s theory of Anne Boleyn’s deformed fetus is wrong, dismissing the entirety of her historical investigation in The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn is balderdash.

My teeth also grind when people give vague and unfounded reasons for not liking fiction. For example, giving any JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books one star because you do not “approve” of witchcraft is asinine. Or casting aspersions on a children’s fantasy book by the legendary author Madeline L’Engle because it was “unrealistic”; I’m so sorry you were expecting realism in a book about time traveling children in league with angels. Or the people who sniff at Jane Austen because all she focuses on is marriage. Bah! Read the books; she skewers social systems and pops vanity balloons all over the place. Or someone who criticizes a new Terry Pratchett Discworld book because a character is not exactly the same person he was in the last book – as though the characters have not evolved in each book!

Criticisms such as “I didn’t like it” or “it bored me” or “I found it dry” don’t bother me at all, because they are entirely subjective. It is only when facts are distorted that I start to twitch.

This is what it’s like to be an Aspy. Like Spock on the Enterprise, we live in a nearly constant state of galled because people do illogical and nonsensical things. Opinions may be disputed, but facts are by their very nature immutable.  Regrettably, I am also like Spock in that I frequently let people know when they are wrong or their conclusions are faulty. Not everyone appreciates this as much as you would think.

Gee, I wonder why people with Asperger’s syndrome develop a reputation for being ‘difficult’?

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