Reviewing

The review book stream has begun to change its course to my new city. I’m pretty sure that Bob is breathing a sigh of relief at the Berkeley side of the river–and perhaps is still a bit disbelieving that the tidal waves he’s been under really will abate before the moving van arrives there.

Since 1978, these packages have been a part of my life. I compare them to a series of blind dates: some you can’t wait to leave at the end of an excruciatingly long evening while others you’d marry without regret. The plain wrappers tell only a very little: general provenance, how long the selected delivery system took. Galley copies aren’t fancy, for the most part, so judging a book by its cover isn’t even possible. Some arrive in their party clothes–finished or nearly–while others are a sloppy bunch of photocopies bound in nothing more than a giant metal clip, or even a sagging rubber band.

In the past 30 years, I’ve lived in about a dozen houses and apartments, on both coasts, up and down the left one. There have been lean times and fat, economically and emotionally, and only a very few constants, one of which has been this stream of possibilities, books in need of introduction to likely readers.

Some of the review assignments have come with generous word allotments for my measure of the subject while others verge on haiku necessity. It’s made me feel as though I can imagine being a wine taster or a food critique–not that I have either the talent or interest for either. Art criticism, on the other hand, is so far above my head that I cannot imagine its undertaking even on the aprt of an unknown other–although I read art critics and understand how to think about and talk about their approaches, knowledge bases, sensibilities. My reading is listening, not seeing–pretty damn funny for someone who reads a lot of sequential art.

What did he say? How did she say it? Does that saying work well or just well enough or not so well? Who will care about the content? About the saying of the content? Who said it better? Who couldn’t say it as well?

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One Response to “Reviewing”

  1. Pam Holley Says:

    You have captured some of the fun and surprise and excitement of the arrival of another box of review materials; the analogy to a blind date is perfect as some titles you’d just as soon pack back in the box and return while others you wish you’d receive d14 copies so you could share a wonderful reading experience with friends. Pam

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