Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How Cruel to Be in Reviewing a Book

I recently finished the audiobook of one of the worst books I've ever read.

I mean it. It was terrible. So this site has been silent while I dig around for what to say.

I love reading the NYTimes' movie reviews. Their reviews are always informative, written at a high level and show a mastery of the genre. But they become something magic when it's time to pan a lousy blockbuster.

Go ahead: read A.O. Scott's review of The Cat in the Hat.

I want to write like that: to eviscerate an author who probably spent less time thinking through the premise of his novel than I've now spent thinking about what to say.

At the same time, I never want to be cruel to someone who has endeavored to create art and failed.

Writing is hard. Impossibly hard. Doubt it? Go ahead: click the link to "Next Blog" that's at the top left hand corner of this page. I had to click 5 times to find a blog that had been updated this month. To write demands discipline, focus, and talent.

I never want to mistake a lack of talent for a lack of focus or discipline. So, although there are more and more calls out there for us to be brutal in our book reviewing, I try to let my gut reaction settle before I write. I will not say untrue kindnesses, but I will find (if I can) points to praise before I find points to demean.

Unless the book is World Made By Hand by James Howard Kunstler. The worst book I've read this decade.

Full review to follow.

No comments:

Post a Comment