ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Weston Ochse is a former intelligence officer and special operations soldier who has engaged enemy combatants, terrorists, narco smugglers, and human traffickers. His personal war stories include performing humanitarian operations over Bangladesh, being deployed to Afghanistan, and a near miss being cannibalized in Papua New Guinea. His fiction and non-fiction has been praised by USA Today, The Atlantic, The New York Post, The Financial Times of London, and Publishers Weekly. The American Library Association labeled him one of the Major Horror Authors of the 21st Century. His work has also won the Bram Stoker Award, been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and won multiple New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards. A writer of more than 26 books in multiple genres, his military supernatural series SEAL Team 666 has been optioned to be a movie starring Dwayne Johnson. His military sci fi series, which starts with Grunt Life, has been praised for its PTSD-positive depiction of soldiers at peace and at war. Weston likes to be called a chaotic good paladin and challenges anyone to disagree. After all, no one can really stand a goody two-shoes lawful good character. They can be so annoying. It's so much more fun to be chaotic, even when you're striving to save the world. You can argue with him about this and other things online at Living Dangerously or on Facebook at Badasswriter. All content of this blog is copywrited by Weston Ochse.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

S.T. Joshi - Literary Bully

Reactions:  
I hate bullies of all types. I was bullied when I was a kid. For a brief time, I was a bully, unable to deal with some severe emotional distress I was having at the time. Then I was bullied so bad I was put in the hospital. So when I see bully-like behavior, I stand up.

S.T. Joshi is a bully. Period. He pretends to be an academic critic, but his delivery is pure bully. He wears his Lovecraftian credentials on his sleeve, much like a Worshipful Master of a Masonic Lodge. But that's all he has. The fact that he's steeped himself in everything Lovecraft doesn't make him a reputable critic of the horror field as a whole. In fact, his obtuse specialty should minimize his authority regarding popular fiction, yet there are those of the tribe who don't realize this. So I guess it's up to me to shine the light of reason on the bullying this man is endeavoring and his attempts to create a caste system in the horror genre where everyone he doesn't like becomes the antithesis of his Brahminism - an untouchable.

I've thought of S.T. Joshi as a peripheral member of the genre, someone who pops up like a Butterball timer whenever he retells or re-shells a Lovecraftian treatise. I mean, how many times does Lovecraft need to be re-packaged? As far as I know, Joshi hasn't written a body of work separate from that and a few other dead white guys, so it's on the back of an impoverished Rhode Island writer that he's established himself, like a Lady Godiva of Cthlulu.

He recently came to my attention when he began to write about some of my friends, and no one bullies my friends. He's decided to write a treatise on 21st Century Horror, not realizing, I guess, that the American Library Association already covered the first decade of the 21st Century in their Readers Advisory Guide to Horror. I would trust a platoon of librarians over one hate-filled Lovecraftian guru any day. Go Librarians!

And they managed to do it without hatred. Because lacking in any credentials beyond Lovecraft, Joshi resorts to hatred. When I read the essay on my friend Laird Barron, titled Laird Barron: The Decline and Fall, I could not believe Joshi's gall at even declaring the so-called "fall of a writer" when that writer's career is just past its nascent stages. Is the man so shallow that he must fill himself with someone else's demise in order to prematurely ejaculate it in an essay? And let me set the record straight, there is no fall in Laird. He's rising like a spring wind.

Then I saw the piece Joshi did on another friend, Brian Keene.
For the past two or three weeks I have been in misery. In short, I have been reading the novels of Brian Keene. Were I not driven by my sacred duty as a literary critic to assess the work of this grotesquely prolific blowhard for my treatise, 21st-Century Horror, I would have been relieved of this excruciating agony; but the job is done, as is my chapter on Keene, which can be found here.

(Pro tip, Joshi: when you use the word blowhard in your thesis, it invalidates everything you're trying to say, unless you truly are a bully, in which case your Bulldydom is fixed and mortared.) Take this from this professor of creative writing. If his duty was truly sacred, his charge would be to present an impartial review, but by reading the above, you can clearly see it's anything but. Having read the work, it's so far from being academic, it could be something I'd grade in ENG 226.

Joshi went on to question the plots and actions of the characters in Keene's books. (Seriously, Joshi, have you read Lovecraft?) I held back editing Joshi's continuous abuse of past and present tense in the piece, mainly because I want readers to see it for themselves. The lack of writing ability paired with words such as blowhard, schlocky, and plebeian, demonstrate that Joshi is just a man holding onto Lovecraft's belt with one hand and smacking wildly at the universe with the other.

In the current culture of bullyism, it's easy to succumb. But remember this, we are all on this planet together. We do better for ourselves by propping each other up rather than knocking each other down.


25 comments :

  1. Well done.

    On my list of traits rated from best to worst, loyalty is up at the top, jealousy disguised as relevant critique down at the bottom.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know... Joshi has won MANY awards. And published over 250 books. And has been on the scene 40 years.

      You REALLY think he's jealous? HAHAHAHAHAH! As if.

      Delete
    2. Oh look, if it isn't Joshi's personal Renfield.

      Look, kid, I've taken over 250 shits too. I just wasn't so blinded by my own ego that I made Hippocampus Press bind & print them all.

      Delete
    3. Stay classy, "Anonymous." Interesting that you're too insecure to reveal your identity. It invalidates your criticism, honestly.

      For the record: Hippocampus Press is a venture of Derrick Hussey, Joshi, and David Schultz. Last I heard it's no crime to have a joint venture, although Joshi is only the scholar (along with Schultz), not a financial stakeholder.

      As to being a "personal Renfield" (I suspect I can guess who this is based on that bit alone): HAHAHAH! I'm amazed that Weston can defend his friend and be regarded as a mensch, yet if I do it I'm berated. Hypocrite much?

      Delete
  2. Funny, I love Lovecraft and I never heard of the guy. Then again, I don't have time to read fanfic very often. You make good points.
    A thing comes to mind from my Journalism mentor of long-ago: Language has power, what words you choose not only skew your reader's opinions, but reveal much about you as a person/writer.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Perhaps, but there's no excuse for a professional writer to make all the silly grammatical and stylistic errors in the four Keene books Joshi reviewed. Like "horde" for "hoard"; multiple uses of "it's" for "its"; multiple uses of "guy's" for "guys"; etc. See Joshi's list here: http://stjoshi.org/review_keene.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would fault the editor, not the writer. A writer has a story to tell. The mistakes you pointed out take nothing away from that story.

      You said it yourself, he's a professional writer. He's not a professional English teacher.

      Delete
  4. The grammar notes really surprised me too. However, that’s in no way a reflection of Brian’s ability to tell a story—we all write at a hectic pace and miss use words—but rather the publishing house he was working with, and we all know how it ended for Dorchester. Brian’s a good writer and Joshi’s essay on Brian was written out of spite—not literary criticism. It came across as jealousy in my opinion.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Like I commented on a friend's FN post (where I first saw this):
    I see people saying Joshi's Lovecraft "scholarship" is still important, and that people should still read that.

    Does anyone think that the way he behaves now is something that is anathema to how he used to be?
    Considering Joshi's attitudes I find it higlly unlikely that has not effected his "scholarship". Has he ever been peer-reviewed by someone who has had the same access?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I don't know... When Keene bashes others, that's NOT bullying? This is about the work, and while I might not have put it online, people are different. And tastes vary, so there you have it.

    Nonetheless, since it appears you are unaware of Joshi's importance to the field, here's an out-of-date primer: http://stjoshi.org/bibliography.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The fact that he bashed Laird because Laird wouldn't let him reprint a work lessens the man's importance.

      Delete
    2. Factually inaccurate: Barron WAS willing to sell him the reprint rights. But he asked for $.10/word (on a REPRINT) to do so. Joshi said his budget wouldn't allow that, so he declined.

      Delete
  7. Great piece, Weston. Thanks for your insight to this guy's mouth mountain of madness.
    Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  8. S.T. Joshi has written books on many diverse subjects such as atheism, politics, the mystery genre, H.L. Mencken, Arthur Machen, Clark Ashton Smith, and so on and so forth. To claim that his work is focused on nothing but Lovecraft is erroneous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sypha, I mentioned that in passing in the essay (other dead white guys), but because I know him primarily as a Lovecraft scholar, I focused on that.

      Delete
    2. Joshi was born in Pune, India, and is non-white (he's ethnically Indian, and was raised as a secular Hindu). He has also written extensively on prejudice and atheism, as well as liberalism (he's a leftist). He's not just a "dead white guy" stereotype.

      Also, he has written at length on FEMALE and non-white authors. You should look into his work: You might learn something. A LOT, in fact.

      Keene has NO IDEA of the scope of Joshi's works: He's the most important scholar and critic IN the horror field, period.

      Delete
  9. I've only met Joshi once, he was a nice guy, but there was a darker part of him. I didn't get to speak to him much, because it was a party and several of gathered around a table to chat. Joshi has always been a bully. I don't necessarily disagree with some of his assessments of people's work, but i do disagree with the way he comes across.
    You don't have to be an ass to give someone a bad review. It's unprofessional. More importantly, if you feel so strongly against someone's work and you continue reading it, then you're being petty.
    Joshi displays pettiness at a rate that tells me his glory days are far behind. This is all that remains of him, his ability to shred someone viciously, with little care or thought to that person. It's quite sad really, to watch someone in decline.

    ReplyDelete
  10. 'You don't have to be an ass to give someone a bad review.'

    Absolutely right!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Well written. Joshi has written some interesting stuff, but his attitude has always turned me. I've never reacted well to what I consider to be insufferable know-it-alls.
    I've seen his diatribes against authors I admire with disgust. We all have our opinions, but when you attack others, I tend to disregard those same opinions.
    Also, to criticize a published story for misspellings, blame the editors. It's THEIR job to catch errors.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm a serial misspeller. Thank god for my editors!

      Delete
  12. Well said sir...WELL SAID! Sometimes we find those who are so insecure in their own ability it is easier to attempt to discredit others just to feel better about their own situation. Obviously this individual lacks true impartiality and abuses his charged responsibilities.

    ReplyDelete
  13. This is utterly glorious. Nice work, Weston.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I read Keene's response which was professional, witty, and (under the circumstances), collected. Like yours, Weston. We live in a society of outrage and bullying - your points are pertinent and timely.

    ReplyDelete