Tuesday, May 30, 2006

How Not to Write a Book Review

Two excerpts from a book review which appeared recently in the New York Sun, written by Elizabeth Spiers:

"Mr. Raines's elegiac prose is sprinkled with short expository digressions that contextualize or otherwise explain the personal significance of lost fish, the behavior and philosophies of people who have influenced the author's life, and the author's own beliefs about fate and one's ability to elude it, or lack thereof."

"The One That Got Away might have been a summary defense masquerading as a fly-fishing memoir rather than a series of damn good fish stories with an obligatory (and possibly publisher-mandated) analysis of the most notorious public event in which Raines was a material participant had Mr. Raines still felt the need to exculpate himself three years after the fact. Neither is optimal, but the latter is certainly preferable."

Say what? The entire review is made up of such marble-mouthed prose. I had to read passages over two or three times to know what she thought she was talking about. Miss Elizabeth still has her head in the academy-- or the academy inside her head.

(The Underground Literary Alliance will be soon featuring book reviews on our site. We'll cover the underground but the establishment as well. No, don't fill the ULA mailbox with unsolicited books! I promise this: No vague fence-straddling. You'll know exactly where the reviewer stands. www.literaryrevolution.com.)

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