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Monday, August 13, 2012

on reviewing: Round-Table, On Reviews & Views, Re-Reading Reviews, How not to write a bad review & more

Reviews and Critisicm were one of the focus themes of the last week in the literary web, with whole chains of essays written in reflection and response. some selected links:


Review Roundtable & Re-Reading Reviews

The Art of the Book Review - interview series by Karen Lillis
"Has new media itself degraded (or evolved) the idea of a book review? To some writers, the blog format seems like a good excuse to write a casual review that may be even less thoughtful than a blurb. To other writers, a Goodreads account is a fine platform to write intelligent responses to steady reading. And there are plenty of writers, young and old, who are writing well-considered book reviews and getting paid much less than they were a decade ago, or not getting paid at all."

Poetry Foundation: 100 Years of Poetry: Re-Reading Reviews
"What should a book review do? Analyze, empathize? Compare, contrast? Historicize, contextualize? Defend, demolish? When I started reviewing poetry, I had no idea. .. But some years later, having published a hundred or so reviews, I think I may see what she meant."

The Best American Poetry: Women Who Write Poetry Criticism (Roundtable)
"Recently, a lot of attention has been paid to the fact that more men are being published than women. Because my sense is that there’s also a lack of women writing about poetry, I wanted to explore this topic in more detail with a number of women critics I admire. The following is the lively roundtable I moderated over the last few months between Sina Queyras, Elisa Gabbert, Shanna Compton, Juliana Spahr, Vanessa Place and Danielle Pafunda." - Sandra Simonds


Review Essay-Chains

Daniela Elza: of reviews and views (with a chain of essay links)
"Well, this is interesting. It is a discussion on reviews (positive or negative, if you are into dichotomies) that needs to happen. I am glad it is happening. Interesting how it is happening. It touches on a lot of threads that need exploring."

one of the starting points:
CWILA: The Ethics of the Negative Review by Jan Zwicky
"The critics killed Keats. What writer has ever had a bad review and not felt the truth of Byron’s claim? That squelching of self and creativity. It’s one of the reasons that, when I was review editor for The Fiddlehead in the early nineties, I made a point of requesting that a review be written only if the reviewer was genuinely enthusiastic about the book. I had other motives, too. One was that I hoped, in this way, to get writing that was engaged with its subject-matter, and not simply sleepwalking its way to another line in someone’s CV. Secondly, as a poet, I was only too aware how many excellent books were published each year to no public notice of any sort: it seemed perverse to kill trees to complain about the bad ones. But mostly I thought there was no need to sharpen the hatchets when a deathly critical silence would do all the public work that needed doing. It’s this motive on which I want to dwell because I know my views are not universally shared."

Salon: The case for positive book reviews (with links to related essays)
"Did you know that today’s literary criticism is submerged in a flood of niceness? Me neither. Yet that is the opinion of Jacob Silverman, a contributor to Slate, who complained of it earlier this month, and of my former Salon colleague Dwight Garner, who seconds Silverman’s emotion in this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine."

Salon: How not to write a bad review  (with links to related essays)
"There has been a lot of writing on the Internet these past few weeks about book criticism — the evidently excessive niceness of writers on Twitter, and the need for writers to be able to criticize one another in public. My own response to this debate – on Twitter, of course — was that it’s possible to be a booster on social media and a critic elsewhere — on blogs and in newspapers. My own book reviews are often highly critical of their subjects — not because I am interested in putting down other writers, but because I don’t love most books, and think we should all be held to high standards. It is also interesting, for me anyway, to analyze why I don’t like something."


Unknown said...


Well, I would say you learn to write when you realize there's a spark in you. You learn to grow when you realize you have the power to forgive. You learn to shine, when you overcome your dark side.

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