Customer Review

388 of 465 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Decent idea for a book, unreliable narrator, September 23, 2012
This review is from: Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'm conflicted about HEADS IN BEDS. I really wanted to like it. I spent some time in hospitality myself, and I think there are great stories to be told from both sides of the check-in desk. And there are some interesting stories in this book, at least in the 85 pages of it that I got through before putting it down.

And why did I put it down? Mostly, because a memoir needs a likable, or at least, engaging, narrator and Tomsky comes across as neither.

An example: early in the book, he decides to impress us by giving us some historical context for the development of the hospitality industry. I guess he and his editor thought that three paragraphs of history was too dry, so Tomsky decided to spice it up. "So in 1794, someone, some ---hole, built the very first 'hotel' in New York City..."

If Tomsky really feels that way about whoever opened that hotel, I've got to ask, why? What did he ever do to him to earn that kind of vitriol. And if he doesn't really feel angry enough towards him to use that word, then he's the worst kind of literary poseur: a YouTube commenting keyboard warrior with an agent.

Tomsky does this quite a bit. It's one thing to have the profanity and pseudo-tough guy language in your dialog. It can even come out of your narrator's mouth when speaking out loud. But when the narrator uses this kind of language to talk directly to the reader, it's trying too hard to be edgy.

He does this throughout, and it feels completely inauthentic to me. It makes me not trust the narrator, and that's the kiss of death for a memoir.

What finally killed the book for me was the narrator's sense of entitlement. I needed a break after page 82, where the narrator was distraught over not being able to spend the rest of his life hanging out in parks in Copenhagen smoking marijuana, and having to return to the US to work after his money ran out. I put the book down for a few days, then dove back in, but tapped out three pages later when the narrator complained about living expenses in New York City being too expensive, and the difficulties of getting a job outside of the one field where he has actual experience.

I've got to confess that I just couldn't keep reading after that. Newsflash: most people who work in hospitality don't do it because they really get off on showing up to work ten minutes before their shift and waiting on other people all day. They do it because they are adults who other people are depending on to be responsible. I try to finish every book I start, but at that point, I figured that the author wasn't treating his readers with any respect, so I didn't feel compelled to read on.
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Comments

Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 21 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 20, 2012 6:23:08 AM PST
Thank you, you saved me money! :)

Posted on Nov 24, 2012 2:18:33 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Nov 24, 2012 2:19:49 PM PST]

Posted on Nov 24, 2012 2:30:41 PM PST
amy cloonan says:
Thanks for the review.....it seems like the intent of the writing may be unbeknownst to the writer which can be, overall, a generational by-product.

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 2:12:11 PM PST
SBizzle says:
Hey - if you search hard enough on Amazon you might find a "sense of humor" to purchase. I take it you don't read much non-fiction. This is a GREAT read for what it is - a fun take on one individuals experience. You may want to read David Eggers or Augusten Burroughs to ease you into the genre. And also - broaden your mind - not everyone's experience will be identical to your own. Life is full of differences.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 6:29:32 AM PST
Wow. Ad hominem much? If the quality of the writing is so high, why does someone who enjoyed the book have to put down someone who didn't by saying that they don't have a sense of humor, haven't read much, and are closed-minded?

I read the book. Judged it on its own merits. Didn't like it. If I hadn't gotten it under the Vine program, I wouldn't have reviewed it at all. I hate writing negative reviews, but I was given a review copy of the book with the understanding that I would write an honest review about it. I did. I pointed out a few specific things in the writing that brought me to the conclusion that this wasn't, in my opinion, a book that I wanted to finish. This was my honest reaction to the book. I would hope that, as a fellow reader, you would want nothing less.

I'm perfectly secure in the knowledge that another reader could think this was Pulitzer material. That doesn't make them any more or less intelligent or open-minded than me. It just means that, for whatever reason, the book worked better for them. And if that's their honest reaction to the book, I'd love to hear it. But I'd take it much more seriously if they could express themselves without denigrating those who didn't like it.

Posted on Nov 29, 2012 8:47:39 AM PST
Ed Morgan says:
Great line: "It makes me not trust the narrator, and that's the kiss of death for a memoir." very true.

Posted on Dec 2, 2012 7:50:04 PM PST
David C. says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 5, 2012 9:36:05 AM PST
Ditto her comment. I was going to buy this book for my husband for Christmas, as he is also in the hospitality industry, but I think he would view the book exactly as you (Mr. Schwartz) did.

Posted on Dec 11, 2012 4:10:38 PM PST
J. Jensen says:
An interview with the author I heard left me with the same impression D. Schwartz had. Too bad. At first it seemed like an appropriate gift for a friend who might be interested in the topic. Now I don't think so.

Posted on Dec 14, 2012 9:44:16 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 14, 2012 9:44:44 PM PST
Not fun, not rollicking, just simpering vulgarity, and guest bashing. Run, don't walk to the nearest Salvation Army kettle and leave the price of this book in it, as the money will be better spent.
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