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Monday, May 29, 2006

The Review As Literature

In an interesting and thought-provoking article in The Oregonian, Brian Doyle urges us to look upon the book review as a genre of literature itself: " one really thinks of the book review as a genre itself, a shapely form, a unique and peculiar corner of literature; but maybe we should. "

He goes on: "Consider the difficulty of composing a brief piece, both graceful and pointed, that must juggle many tasks: assess the feats and flaws of the book at hand, its place in the works of that writer, its place in books on that subject, its general substance or silliness, and -- most of all -- whether the book is worth cold cash. Additionally, a good review should sketch the subject of the book itself in such a way that the reader gets a quick lesson in Antarctic exploration, beekeeping, Guy Fawkes, Tom McCall's fishing waders, etc.; one subtle kick of a book section in a newspaper is that it is fully as informative and stimulating as the rest of the paper (indeed usually more so), whether or not you immediately shuffle to the bookstore to lay your money down."

How nice. One can think of so many reviewers in this country who ought to be sent this piece at once.


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