The Bullfrog Review
Introduction to what we do here
Over the past year or so I’ve come into association with lots of writers, both aspiring and published. I use the term loosely but they are “dissidents” of various stripes. Not that such a word means much these days, anyone “normal” is now a “dissident” because if you are not a regime sycophant that wants to cover the world in the Imperium of the Rainbow Flag, you are apparently a dissident. I will heretofore refer to us in the common parlance of being known as “frogs”.
The traditional literary industry is a mess. The only things getting published and promoted now are political tell-all books that facilitate bribes and favors meant to damage enemies of the regime or promote its figures. Or ideological screeds like “anti-racist baby” or mediocre novels that never should have been published but they decided to anyway, because it was a girl who slept with a literary agent who wrote it, or it made the case for cover art of androgynous racially ambiguous golems scissoring each other and they felt it’d look good sitting on the shelf to signal their virtue and allegiance to the regime.
But meanwhile, there is a thriving subculture of frogs who are diligently writing, critiquing, and quietly organizing. These are people who are serious about telling good stories, sharing good ideas, and they are being ignored. While I made it a compulsive habit to buy books my mutuals write as an act of support, many of them were collecting dust on my shelf. I was buying them but I wasn’t *reading* most of them.
But then I had an epiphany, a breaking point, whatever you want to call it. A man followed me on twitter who had a successful career in business and retired, and in his bio was a link to an adventure book he wrote and self-published. The book had about 30 reviews and all of them were positive, and it got me thinking. This guy did his time being productive and he probably always wanted to write a book, so he went out and he actually did and the people who read the book seemed to like it and I had never heard of it, or him.
Suddenly I was full of anger and empathy, I had gone to Barnes & Noble with my family recently and there were trash books everywhere getting a heroes triumph worth of promotional posters. Woke stuff, mediocre stuff, mediocre woke stuff. And I thought to myself “If everyone knew these good books were out here, there’s no way they would settle for this sludge being shoved in their faces.” and I got me thinking.
The many overlapping circles that roughly comprise “frog twitter” contains all the organs that together, form a roughly hewn image of something resembling a nascent publishing industry, but for us. But critics and reviewers are few and far between, almost unheard of. That’s when it hit me: “I could do it, why not?”
This is also why I am mainly going to be focusing on a specific few categories. I am primarily going to be reviewing fiction stories meant to entertain and thrill, as well as kids books(because I am the father of young children myself), and the very occasional non-fiction book that deserves it and is written by someone who deserves the attention.
So that is what this Substack will be about. I’m not going to give you the ten millionth review of Revolt Against The Modern World, or the “right wing take” on a classic everyone has already heard of. I want to read the stories written by those who don’t get any of the oxygen in the room by the traditional publishing industry that are worth sharing, because I want everyone to read those instead of “Anti-Racist Baby” or a politically motivated “reimagining” of a classic that was originally good. I want to give these people who have poured sweat and toil and immense personal investment that goes into writing at least some of the oxygen that they have always deserved but are tragically deprived of.
Come with me on this journey and subscribe with your email, free or paid, to receive notifications when new reviews are posted.
I like your nom de guerre of "Frogs." It reminds me of Emily Dickinson:
"I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there's a pair of us!
Don't tell! they'd advertise – you know!
How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one's name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!"
You can find my writing through my Substack or my website (https://carolinefurlong.wordpress.com/) and reviews of other "Frog" books here at https://upstreamreviews.substack.com/, where I'm a contributor. Thank you for spreading the word, fellow Frog! ;)
Just found you through a friend... loved your Accidental Revolution piece and this one supportive of suppressed literary dissent. In that vein my writings might appeal... see my substack or website, nowickgray.com , featuring latest essay collection, Covid Narrative Freedom. Viva FrogLit! :)