Sunday, May 31, 2009

TSS: Struck Wordless

The Sunday Salon.comFor the past three days I've been sweating over my review for Ron Carlson's The Signal, which comes out tomorrow. Carlson is the author most recently of Five Skies (2007) and several other books, including my favorite collections of short stories. The trouble is, I like the man's work too much.

It can be a little terrifying, requesting to review the latest release by a favorite author, because what if it doesn't measure up? With a library book it's easier to quietly slip the book back into the book drop and pretend it didn't happen. Or with a new-to-you author, you can say "this wasn't for me," and move on. But after you've gone on and on about how wonderful someone's writing it is, it's humbling to have to say, "I didn't like it much."

And if the book is everything you'd hoped it to be? What do you say then?

"Go buy this book! Read it, read it, read it! Do! It's's just's really, know? Really-really-really good!" Knowing that the author may at some point read this babbling, could be reading it and thinking "This is the kind of person my books appeal to? Christ."

But, hey, Dr. Carlson teaches creative writing at college. He's surely been exposed to worse than I can come up with, with the possible exception of the paragraph above this one. I'll try to do the book justice in my write-up, and then I'll force myself to hit Publish and move on.


Do you ever feel intimidated when writing about a favorite author? Which author or book has been the hardest for you to review?

This week's giveaway winners: (this giveaway continues for two more weeks, go to parenting/nutrition giveaway and leave a comment to enter).
Dr. Sears' N.D.D. Book: Lisa
G-Free Diet: Korah and Carleen
If Your Kid Eats This Book: GShome and SpiralMama


  1. If I'm really into a book, I find it hard to review it without giving too much away. So I tend to be too cautious, and so I never feel like I'm giving a persuasive argument as to while the book is so great. For example:

  2. You are the second person in the last two days who said to read Ron Carlson. I have Five Skies on my bookshelves right now. Now I know I have to.

    I found two books hard to review: Tales of Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan and Bird by Zetta Elliot. Both books are perfect.

  3. ""This is the kind of person my books appeal to? Christ.""

    lol, this is what I always assume the authors I love would think of they read my blog :P So yes, I do feel intimidated, pretty much all the time. I deal with it by forbidding my brain from even considering the possibility, and living in denial about the fact that the internet is, in fact, public :P

  4. Funny ;)
    I can relate to your experience.

    It was hard for me to review Kafka on the Shore because I didn't like it much, but Murakami is supposed to be my favorite. Gosh I just so wanted him to be perfect! :P

  5. I am always intimidated to review a book EVERYONE has read and loves. Nymeth's comment cracks me up - isn't she silly? I'm glad she revs anyway and I'm glad YOU do, too.

  6. Hi Ali,
    I think the key is *not* to sweat it when reviewing, and just to be true to oneself. Provided one gives a good explanation of why one doesn't like a particular book, then the author can take it as constructive criticism, especially when it comes from someone who generally enjoys his/her work.



  7. J.T., your review is great, and you introduced me to a new author as well! Thanks!

    Vasilly, Who recommended Ron Carlson, can you remember? Must be a kindred spirit!

    Nymeth, that cracks me up that you live in denial that the internet is public. I actually like it when authors read my reviews, but it is a little intimidating at times!

  8. Mee, see that was what I was afraid of! Rob has great advice for when that happens. Luckily, this book totally measured up to my expectations, and my main worry was how to say so without gushing like a schoolgirl with a crush. (My review is now posted, did I manage it, I wonder?)

    Care, I agree that can be intimidating, too--what could I possibly have to add that hasn't been said already?

  9. Ali, you crack me up. I find that I sometimes don't have the words for a book I need to review either. Sometimes you just can't put it into words! I have the most trouble with books that I feel lukewarm about. I sometimes can't put my finger on what did not satisfy me about the book, you know?

  10. Yes, and with those lukewarm books it can be hard to find interesting things to say. "I read this book and it was okay," isn't really worth the effort of posting, is it?