Friday, April 23, 2010

The Book Review

I just read the book, Solar, by Ian McEwan. I put it on reserve as soon as I heard about it, not waiting for a review. Enduring Love, Atonement, On Chesil Beach, a few of his other titles, were each creatively written, clever stories. I was game for this one.

Solar was enjoyable but it included a few slapstick scenes and a predictable main character. Elements I find distracting.

Walter Kirn (the author of Up in the Air) reviewed it in 1400 words for the New York Times this week. He said..."a book so good — so ingeniously designed, irreproachably high-minded and skillfully brought off — that it’s actually quite bad." With a sentence like that, what is a reader supposed to do?

Maybe just enjoy and appreciate the well crafted review.

I recently learned that there is an award for excellence in book reviewing - The Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Book Reviewing. In 1974, the community of reviewers and critics realized that respect for the profession was slight, and thus the National Book Critics Circle was organized as a professional support group. The award was later created after the death of Nona Balakian, one of the founding members of the NBCC.

Donna Seaman, a Chicagoan, and a finalist for the award this past year hopes the award "conveys to the public that book reviewing is a demanding, creative and significant endeavor, an art held to high standards..."

We read a lot of reviews here at the library, and write a few too. I'll be looking out for Donna's reviews. (and, of course, Des Plaines staff reviews in the TribLocal.)


Karen said...

That NY Times book review of "Solar" made me laugh out loud - talk about damning with BOLD praise. :)

Jo said...

Even a bad Ian McEwan is worth the time.

And thanks for the attention to book reviewers. We are the Rodney Dangerfields of the writing community - we don't get no respect but writing a good book review is an art in itself, and very difficult to do well, in my lowly opinion.

Anonymous said...

The New York Review of Books is a good source. (Although some complain that the reviews are too long. They're more essay-reviews.)I like Entertainment Weekly's mini-reviews, too.

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