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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Book Reviewing, or whatever you want to call it

I love Eudora Welty's short stories. But I know not everybody "gets" her. Just now I was trying to decide which edition to pick as a gift for someone, and I was rambling around the Barnes and Noble and Amazon sites.

This is what bugs me about random commenters, whether it be rating restaurants, TVs or news stories on websites. You don't know whom to trust. Is what you are reading coming from somebody who has a clue as to what they are saying? A reputable voice? A furious customer? Does it matter?

Eudora Welty is arguably one of our most esteemed writers. I could go on forever listing her awards and accolades. Yet, not everyone cares for her stories as much as I. (Though how could anybody resist her famous photographs? This lady looks exactly like my grandmother...)

My point? If you don't know what you are talking about and you really don't "get" something, should you just stay-the-heck off the review sites?

Am I being snarky? Does anybody agree with me? Can any good come from this review? Other than maybe giving us something to chuckle about at our Book Group discussion? True confessions- The 15-word description of a favorite story of mine, Why I Live at the P.O., did make me smile. For about a second.

This is what some random Amazon reviewer person says about the most famous of Welty's stories. At least he adds a disclaimer: "Everyone's taste is different."
I'll say.

What do you think? Helpful or mildly humorous? And what's the point,


Do not read this book unless you like short stories or are required to do so. Each story is like reading the exposition of a novel, which is the most uninteresting part. Here are some of what the stories are about: 1) A woman who lives at the post office and has male relatives who wear dresses 2) A man who's wife said she drowned herself because he came home late, so the man went to look for here body in the river AND 3) Two mentally challenged people who want to get married and one is a xylophone player If these sound interesting to you get the book. They certainly weren't for me. Yet everyone's taste is different.


Lee Stokes Hilton said...

I would suggest that if you (the reviewer) are only relatively literate -- i.e., don't know the difference between who's and whose, can't spell (here vs her), and never learned proper punctuation -- then you should stick to reviewing comic books or pulp fiction. For this reviewer to take on the venerable Miss Welty is the height of hubris. Really.

The reviewer actually says it all in the first sentence -- if you don't like short stories, don't read them. I would say much the same goes for science fiction, biography, Victorian romance, etc. This reviewer is the sort of person who makes my eyeballs boil. So there.

sophiesmom said...

That review is an insult. Welty is in a class by herself--one of my favorites. Those comments reveal the quality of the reviewer. Perhaps this type of thing will motivate one to become a bit more discerning when book reviewing, or whatever you want to call it.

Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

I'm fairly certain that some reviews are by students who are required to review or get extra credit for doing so. I could be wrong about that but this one and others give me that feeling.

The reviewer even implies that he/she was required to read the book.

We just have to take some reviews with a grain of salt. That applies to reviews of our own books, too.

But yes, they do make us feel a little snarky!