Giving it away

Reviews. How hard can they be? Quite difficult, actually, which is why I do my own version of the things, carefully avoiding a lot of intelligent musings on a variety of literary stuff. In short, I don’t know how, so I cheat. But I do know not to just list the plot, step by step, or to tell the end in detail.

I never did get round to reading the Striped Pyjamas, because I hated being told the ending in the Guardian review. Didn’t even see it coming. These days I squint carefully at a review if the book is still waiting to be read hereabouts. In fact, I was a little annoyed at being told too much about Running Wild a few weeks ago, too.

The Guardian review of Terry Pratchett’s Unseen Academicals seemed to be only a list of what happens. Couldn’t work out if the reviewer even liked it. I wonder what people get paid for that kind of thing? I could easily summarise novels in 600 words for payment. I’ll even throw in 100 words of opinion if required.

The other question can be what to review. I was very pleased to see that the Halloween issue of the Guardian covered two of my selected Halloween books. Generally we don’t seem to attach importance to the same books.

What length? The Guardian does a crime column with about four crime novels very briefly reviewed. Barbara from Scandinavian Crime Fiction recently felt that that was just too brief. But better than not at all, I feel.

Crime and children’s books; always forgotten or ignored. Except here, naturally.

6 responses to “Giving it away

  1. I don´t worry too much about the length of a review, but I really want to know what the reviewer thougth about the book and why.

    Spoilers are strictly forbidden, of course, but personally I don´t mind too much (I can´t remember them for five minutes anyway). I tend to prefer blog reviews to professional ones, because bloggers often add a personal touch and make it easier to figure out if he/she liked it or not.

  2. There are lots of blogs reviewing crime fiction as well as this one! At the Friend Feed crime and mystery “room” there are about 30 crime-fiction reader/review blogs feeding in, with plenty of conversation about the reviews, so please do join us there and/or sign up to the blogs that take your fancy!
    There are also great online resources for crime-fiction reviews eg Euro Crime and Reviewing the Evidence.

  3. I didn’t intend it to sound like I’m the only one in crime, Maxine! Sorry about that. I just meant I don’t discriminate against it. My attack was on newspapers, really, and anybody else who asks the author of crime or children’s fiction ‘And when are you going to write a proper book?’

    For crime, prospective readers can’t do better than the many blogs that exist today. I’m forever thinking when I see your reviews Maxine, and Karen’s blog, and Peter R and Declan and so on, that I don’t see how you manage to read so many crime novels and review them so well.

    I’m just jealous because I want to do crime more thoroughly, rather than skim the surface. But then I’d have to give up on my children’s books and I can’t do that either.

  4. Totally agree with you on reviews. I don’t really know how one is supposed to write them either, though I’ve written a few myself by now. I hate spoilers, and it does put me off reading something if I know too much about how the plot goes. Like Dorte, I forget them too, but I don’t forget them to order.

    I think it’s a grave mistake for anyone to put themselves above genre. They will miss out on a lot that they might have really loved.

  5. Unfortunately X dies in the last chapter. Yes.

    On the other hand, I did read the Guardian theatre critic on seeing Hamlet for the umpteenth time in a theatre full of people who obviously didn’t even know the plot and who gasped when…

    But do we seriously want to know that in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd it was the … who did it?

  6. The problem with reviewing is lack of space. You end up writing a kind of haiku to the reader, and this (as you know) is hard work. But the best: I’m thankful every day of my life to have something as fascinating as children’s books to cover. Choosing which…well, apart from having a general prejudice against anything that is hyped-up, it’s always personal taste. There are one or two I just do not get, though I keep trying. Nobody has ever offered me money (other than the newspaper) and I just furious at the “goodies” that get sent, as wasteful and silly.

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