Monday, September 24, 2007

I Know I Said I Wouldn't, but...

You know why I don't review books on my blog. Aside from the whole uncomfortable "how do you rate/review your peers?" question, there's the fact that I'm incapable of being rational about it. I admitted it here, when I withdrew my compliance with's star rating system. Except, a few days ago, I capriciously changed my mind again and wrote this about The Book Thief over at goodreads:

I love books like this: books that set up an improbable approach to a story and then totally pull it off by the sheer toughness and brilliance of the writing. As a writer, it's like watching an author do a high-wire act. He's not going to try THAT, is he? OMG, he is!!!

Some may say that parts of this book didn't work for them; I loved every last gutsy bit of it. It engaged all of my reading self: the emotional side, which rode waves of anxiety and grief and anger and joy with the characters; and the intellectual /writerly side which reveled in the language and the wry jokes and the metaphors. And then to sate the visual side of me, there were wrenching and brilliant illustrations to savor as well.

I know I said elsewhere that I was giving up on using the star system, but I guess I'm back on the bandwagon. At least for a little while.

(Then I clicked on all five stars.)

You see? I'm a terrible reviewer, because it's all about ME. But I may decide to review a few things here, anyway. I'm thinking it might be interesting to hear how a writer reads another writer's book: how she looks at the risks taken, and the methods and tools selected, and above all, how thrilling it is to watch a skilled artist working at the same craft as you.

Because, for me, it's not all about the end product, as it might be for another reviewer. It's about watching my peers at work. I admire them; I imitate them; I fear for them; I love them. It's a perilous and marvelous vantage point from which to read a book.


  1. Ha! I never realized it until you said it, but I think I'm guilty of writing reviews that are more about me than the book, too. Oh, well, that's why it's not our job.

    I have, have, have to read that book. Before the year is out. Dang. I keep hearing about it, but now you've finally made me miserable for not having read it yet.

    Thanks for the kick in the drawers.

  2. You're welcome, Robin. You kicked me until I read Eat, Pray, Love, so I owe you one.


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