Twice in the past month I’ve heard writers criticise reviewers for not writing proper reviews. “Some reviewers take a book and use it as a launching pad to write whatever they want,” one complained over lunch.
I kept my mouth shut.
A day or so later, someone emailed me with a list of questions about the current state of on- and off-line reviewing. As I thought about what to answer, I realised one of the aspects I enjoy most about writing reviews online is the freedom to write what I want about a book. I like to write reflections, discussions, musings – and I like to read them, too. I like it when a reviewer gets personal, when s/he admits to feeling provoked, challenged, crushed and remade by a book. Or awed. Or speechless. Or bored.
But are such pieces reviews?
This question has been bugging me, and might account for why I’ve been reading far more than I’ve been posting reviews lately (or writing). The truth is, I’m not sure I want to write “reviews”. Instead, I want to share my experience. I want to give you a glimpse of how I’ve allowed some books to nest inside me, to brood until something cracks, until I feel a stab that tells me: yes, this book has life; this book will take flight in words, inspired-by-this-author musings – or fall, silent.
Whether others catch a glimpse of those words once they’re out and away, whether my impressions flash bright and beautiful, flicker in the shadows or hide invisible, doesn’t matter. The book lives on because it’s helped make me who I am.
So forgive my silence while words brood.
In the meantime, here are some of the books nesting inside me (a few have been there a while):
- Nicole Watson, The Boundary
- Mary-Rose MacColl, In Falling Snow
- M J Hyland, Carry Me Down
- Margo Lanagan, Tender Morsels
- Kirsten McDermott, Madigan Mine
- Lucy Tatman, Numinous Subjects: Engendering the Sacred in Western Culture, An Essay
Do you have books with wings?