Prufrock's Page

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Reading Prose, Writing Reviews

Francine Prose, "a seasoned teacher of literature, a longtime journalist and book reviewer, and the author of fourteen works of fiction" has a new book in the works, the full title of which is, Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them. (Sounds fascinating: one is a sucker for works like these, the last one being Jane Smiley's Thirteen Ways Of Looking At The Novel.) In The Atlantic, Prose speaks of why she wrote it, on the merits of MFA programmes, and on a young writer-friend's assessment of the book: “It’s like Harold Bloom, but written by and for human beings.”

Meanwhile, over at The New Republic, Ruth Franklin starts her review of David Mitchell's Black Swan Green with a long section devoted to the art of book reviewing. In particular, she dwells on what she calls "nice reviewing", as opposed to a hatchet job: " do you convince anyone that you have found 'a novel of real merit' when the simplest phrases ('I liked it') are boring and the elaborate ones ('superbly matchless') have lost their meaning?"


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