My Amazon Revenge: Reviewing my Reviewer

categories: Cocktail Hour


I am confident that a lot of people enjoyed reading my book, Return of the Osprey.  That confidence is based on letters and conversations, and some pretty good reviews.


But one person who clearly did not enjoy the experience was a man who goes by the alias of “Dobx.” In fact Dobx disliked it so much that he chose to reveal his displeasure in a review on


I have been understating so far: Dobx hated the book.


Here is Dobx’s review:


A poor version of Walden Pond redux, June 3, 2010


Dobx “Dobx”

Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

One of Four Stars

This review is from: Return of the Osprey: A Season of Flight and Wonder (Paperback)
We live on a sound on the Outer Banks and erected a nesting box, perhaps 50 feet from our dock, this March. We were fortunate enough to attract a nesting pair who built their nest, and we currently have three chicks in the nest.
I was hoping to get facts about ospreys from the book, but alas instead I got ruminations and regrets and etc. The author really wishes he was an osprey.
I think this is one of the worst books I have ever bought.
If you want osprey facts, simply Google osprey facts and save yourself from the author’s angst.
If I want to reread On Walden Pond, I have a well-thumbed copy.

So that’s the review.

Where to start?

How did my book get to be “one of the worst books” Dobx has ever bought?

Well, let’s break it down:

1.  The book clearly didn’t supply Mr. Dobx with the thing he most wanted: facts.  He compares the book, the product of years of work, unfavorably with a Google search.

And I see his point.  That would certainly be a lot faster than reading.  Also he’s right: there are very few ruminations and regrets and etcs in your average Google search.

2. “The author clearly wants to be an osprey.”  No argument here.

3.  Dobx would prefer to skim his “well-thumbed” copy of On Walden Pond.

Now I’m no Thoreau scholar, but I’m ready to guess that that book, if it exists at all, is not that well-thumbed, or if it is, it got that way without Mr. Dobx reading its title.  I suggest this because he seems to have conflated the work of Henry Thoreau with that of Henry Fonda,  perhaps thinking that the famous author spent his year of solitude On Golden Pond.

(Note to Dobx: the title of Thoreau’s book is Walden.)

4.  I reveal a lot about myself in Return of the Osprey, and apparently that irritates Dobx.  But I find myself wanting to learn a little more about Dobx.  Since he has a house with a dock on the Outer Banks (in the town of Duck) I will assume he is well-off, possibly retired.  A quick review of his other Amazon purchases reveals that the guy loves technology, since most of the other products that he reviews are adapters and electronic gizmos and that sort of thing, but he also wants to know about the wind (he buys wind socks and anenometers—he lives on the Outer Banks after all) and loves his labradoodle (he can’t be all bad) for whom he buys 2 packs of Zymox ear cleanser (the dog is “susceptible to nasty ears and fungi” from swimming in the ocean) and assorted swimming toys like amphibious boomerangs.  (For a full account of Dobx’s purchasing habits you can go here.)

One thing you will learn if you go to that link is that the only thing Dobx hates almost as much as whiny books about ospreys are too tight aviator hats.  Here’s his review:


Red Weatherproof Nylon Trooper Pilot Aviator Trapper Hat for Men and Women
Availability: Currently unavailable
 1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:Got a little head?,December 28, 2009Two of Four StarsThis review is from: Red Weatherproof Nylon Trooper Pilot Aviator Trapper Hat for Men and Women (Apparel)Got a Little Head?  If so, it might fit. Wore it once, got a headache, took it to Goodwill. The end.


The picture of this hat did not come through but you can see my drawing of it below or the real thing here.


 Well, as you’ll obviously agree, that’s enough of Dobx.  Of course I realize I got a little bit carried away. But I feel okay about it.  It has always seemed a little unfair to me that these anonymous strangers get to review you, but you don’t get to talk back.  This, then, is my remedy to that problem.  This then is my Amazon revenge.





  1. Bill writes:

    what sweet revenge. one can only hope that someone out there is acquainted with the mysterious Dobx and will forward your post and the ensuing conversation along for his reading pleasure (if only he can pry himself away from “On Walden Pond”).

  2. Olivia writes:

    If Dobx has unanswered questions, he should join us on the chat at the Hog Island osprey nest cam. We have a lot of good insight to give him, because most of us have read “Return of the Osprey” and “Soaring with Fidel,” both of which we can and do highly recommend to viewers and chatters. If he wants to see well-thumbed books, my Gessner osprey books would qualify. There are even sticky notes that mark the most valuable reference sections!

    • Dave writes:


      Thanks so much for this!
      Dobyx no doubt has sticky notes too. Ones that build his case that I want to be an osprey.

  3. Sage writes:

    Great revenge review!

  4. Dan writes:

    Like Dobx, I feel deceived by the titles of Gessner’s books. I recently purchase “My Green Manifesto” which isn’t a “manifesto” about the superiority of the color green at all. It’s about some guy floating down a river, ruminating, and describing stuff — and though he sometimes does describe some stuff as green, he does so with no more affection or frequency than other lesser colors.

  5. Matthew Taylor writes:


    I loved reading “Return of the Osprey”.

    For what its worth, I’m pretty sure I gave Dobx an “unhelpful” vote on his review.

  6. edie writes:

    Wow. This discussion has really solved my problem. Thanks to Dobx, I now know the perfect gift for all the bibliophile, nature lovers on my Christmas list. I think Trump was correct when he said that bad press is better than no press?
    P.S. Love your blog.

  7. Dick Weaver writes:

    Well, I will first confess that I haven’t read this new book. Maybe I will! (Maybe I won’t–nothing personal! I know you write well.) I enjoyed your review of the reviewer, however. It does feel good sometimes to get to do that. I am sometimes in the position of needing to eschew personal rejoinders, and I like to see others doing it well.

  8. John Jack writes:

    Hmm, let’s see if I can do this one, once please, reply wifhout any tipos of copyediting errors. Gonna fire the banging prose bruiser if he don’t get his eyes on straight, I swear.

    Reviewing is as much an art form as a creative writing primary discourse is, though I’m given to understand by discourse scholars the actual primary discourse is the actions of persons and their inciting events which inspire creative writing, which then is secondary discourse, and reviews are then tertiary discourse. I’m sure there’s quaternary and quinary discourses in the mix there somewhere, like Monsieur Dobx’ vituperative discourses.

    Astroturfing is an up and coming term for the vacuous vanity reviews misguided writers and their misguided acquaintances post at online booksellers. Laying artificial sod.

    Is there such a term for fertilizer reviews spreading artificial manure on artificial sod, like Monsieur Dobx’?

    Then there’s, of course, substantive reviews, which are more analytical discourses than fault-finding exhibitions. Perhaps the noblest of review forms. Artfully contributing to the conversation that is literary art.

    Then there’s promotional reviews, part pitch, part substantive literary review, part audience, decorum, and kairos analysis reviews. They’re commercial conversation, nonetheless contributing to the literary art conversation, when well-crafted.

    And lest I neglect lifestyle commentary reviews, those insignificqant Sunday lifestyle section newspaper columns written by jaded and hated and faded restaurant critics, self-anointed critics and arbiters of public taste and sensibilities. Part astroturf, part fertilizer, maybe part substantive, part promotional, part whatever kitchen sink repair leftovers the reviewer deems passable, reviews.

  9. Kate Whouley writes:

    Yeah, David!!! I *really* feel your pain. One Amazon reviewer called COTTAGE “drivelous,” suggesting it was an excellent example of a book that never should have been published. One might assume this reader would have no interest in another book by the same author, but that would be an incorrect assumption! Not only did she read REMEMBERING THE MUSIC, she read it early in a copy she requested as a VINE reviewer. In the body of the RTM review, she slams COTTAGE one more time before she gets around to letting everyone know there are several other books she would recommend so that readers can avoid making the mistake of reading mine. (As far as I know, I did not steal her 3rd grade boyfriend–a question another Amazon community member asked online.)

    • nina writes:

      A woman on Goodreads says she doesn’t like me. She comes right out and says, “I don’t like Nina.” The blame doesn’t even belong to my novel because by way of explaining her dislike she references the author Q&A in the paperback.

  10. Bill writes:

    I suspect that Dobx is a pelican. All the evidence is there.

    • dave writes:

      Bill, You are adding a new element to our site–or maybe Dobx’s is: the mystery game! I think I see your thinking on the pelican thing: water, wind, osprey-envy….but love of dogs?

      • Dobx writes:

        Pelican love dog.

        • Dave writes:

          And I’ve been thinking about those 2 packs of Zymox ear cleanser, too. All that diving into the water for fish. (By the way, the myth that pelicans go blind from diving, repeated a lot in these parts, is false.)

  11. john lane writes:

    If you get a chance to do another edition of the book you better put on the back cover: “The author really wishes he was an osprey. — Dobx”

  12. Brad Will writes:

    Dave, reading this cocktailhour ditty makes me want to do two things: 1) buy your book, and 2) have a cocktail. I like that you are “talking back” to an anonymous grumble butt, the types of whom the world is full of. Know that these species get a kick out of this form of repartee, so don’t be surprised if subject “Dobx” cracks his/her knuckles and attempts to engage/antogonize you. I counsel – if I may – reveling in the satisfaction that you addressed the offender with humor and factual correction…and start or continue work on your next masterpiece. Happy holidays!

  13. Jennifer writes:

    “The author really wishes he was an osprey” is a comment that makes me want to read your book asap. Ha! And I love your affirmation: “No argument here.”

    What’s much more interesting that the revenge element in your post, however, is the fact that so much about us can be revealed to all and sundry via internet. There is room for a much deeper rumination here than your “revenge.” What is revealed, how much, and how that revelation hides other things about us are compelling. After all, in his brief review of your book, Dobx errs on the side of that brevity itself, because the internet encourages us to blurt out incomplete ideas and demands no accountability from us, as either readers OR reviewers. Unlike in our middle school book reports of yore, we are not required to give any kind of balanced reporting–to make sure we actually have comprehended the core of the book before critiquing it, or to present that information along with our critique.

    (By the way, are you the David Gessner who had a Lamaze Inchworm on his 2002 wish list? LOL 😉

  14. Tammy Andros writes:

    Thanks for the laugh. And kudos for fighting back so successfully. I’ll bet Dobx will be soon searching for the privacy settings on his Amazon account.

  15. Lucy writes:

    I, for one, really appreciate Dobx’s review. I have a tiny head and that’s a really cute hat.

  16. daisy writes:
  17. George de Gramont writes:

    A good way of exorcising the review & moving on.